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Pre- and Postoperative Self-Reported Cognitive Effectiveness and Worry in Patients With Suspected Lung Malignancy

Rebecca Lehto

cognitive function, cognition, lung cancer, distress
ONF 2013, 40(3), E135-E141. DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.E135-E141

Purpose/Objectives: To examine perceived cognitive effectiveness and worry in individuals with suspected lung cancer before and after surgical resection and to determine any differences between individuals with and without a postoperative diagnosis of lung cancer.

Design: A repeated measures longitudinal design.

Setting: A comprehensive cancer center and a Veterans Administration medical center in the midwestern United States.

Sample: 15 men and 8 women aged 37-82 years (X = 61.4, SD = 10.7) with suspected lung cancer.

Methods: Descriptive statistics were used to characterize data. Paired t tests and nonparametric correlation analysis were used to determine relationships among the main study variables.

Main Research Variables: Perceived effectiveness in cognitive function as well as general and cancer-specific worry.

Findings: Patients diagnosed with lung cancer were significantly older. Patients self-reported lowered perceived effectiveness in daily activities that require directed attention both pre- and postoperatively. Patients with nonmalignant postoperative reports had higher general worry at each time point, which was significant following surgery.

Conclusions: A diagnosis of suspected lung cancer may contribute to compromised perceived effectiveness in cognitive function. Nonmalignant pathology following a diagnosis of suspected lung cancer may be associated with continued worry.

Implications for Nursing: Nursing assessment and interventions aimed at supporting effective cognitive function and modifying worry for patients with suspected lung cancer are essential to optimize adjustment.

Knowledge Translation: Suspected lung cancer imposes high demands on cognitive and emotional function. Oncology nurses are in key positions to support patients during and following the diagnostic workup for lung cancer. Younger patients with nonmalignant postoperative reports may need continued follow-up.

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