Understanding Distress in the Hospital: A Qualitative Study Examining Adults With Cancer

Heather Stonelake-French

Brent E. Moos

Carol M. Brueggen

Erin L. Gravemann

Amy L. Hansen

Jeanne M. Voll

Ann Marie Dose

cancer, distress, hospital, qualitative research
ONF 2018, 45(2), 206-216. DOI: 10.1188/18.ONF.206-216

Purpose: To measure the distress of hospitalized adults with cancer and identify strategies and behaviors to manage distress.

Participants & Setting: 185 adults with cancer hospitalized in a large tertiary hospital in the Midwest.

Methodologic Approach: This study involved a one-time assessment using the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN’s) Distress Thermometer and two open-ended questions. Demographic data were reviewed, and responses to open-ended questions were analyzed by content analysis. A team approach was used to develop and validate themes.

Findings: Strategies used by patients to manage distress were categorized as taking charge and embracing help. Helpful strategies were related to quality of life and relationship with care teams.

Implications for Nursing: Understanding of distress in hospitalized adults with cancer is limited, which warrants the attention of healthcare professionals. Study results have implications to enhance patient care and to address nationally established psychosocial care objectives and NCCN distress screening standards.

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