Exploring the Relationship Between Health–Illness Transition Experiences and Distress Among Patients With Pancreatic Cancer

Jessica I. Goldberg

Jessica R. Flynn

Raymond E. Baser

Judith E. Nelson

Elizabeth Capezuti

Dena Schulman-Green

health–illness transitions, distress, pancreatic cancer
ONF 2023, 50(5), 625-633. DOI: 10.1188/23.ONF.625-633

Objectives: To explore the correlation between health–illness transition (HIT) experiences and distress among patients with pancreatic cancer.

Sample & Setting: 55 patients with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer receiving chemotherapy at a tertiary cancer center in New York.

Methods & Variables: A prospective correlational study was performed to explore the frequency, extent, and management of HITs. HITs were evaluated using the Measurement of Transitions in Cancer Scale, and distress was measured with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer.

Results: All patients experienced at least one HIT. The extent of HITs decreased over time. Patients reported that they managed HITs moderately well. There was a significant correlation between unmanaged HITs and distress. As distress increased, the extent of the physical and emotional HITs increased and management worsened.

Implications for Nursing: HITs are ubiquitous among patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Associated distress inhibits management. Nurses are well suited to assess for potential HITs and to support self-management of HITs.

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