Screening for distress using the distress thermometer and the University of Washington Quality of Life in post-treatment head and neck cancer survivors
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The primary aim was to determine the efficacy of the Distress Thermometer (DT) in screening for anxiety and mood problems against the University of Washington Quality of Life, version 4 (UWQOL). Secondary aims were to evaluate the association between demographic, clinical and health-related QOL variables with significant distress. Two hundred and sixty one disease-free HNC ambulatory patients attending routine follow-up clinics were prospectively recruited. Both DT and UWQOL were completed pre-consultation. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses of DT score for anxiety dysfunction yielded an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.877, with a sensitivity of 84% (43/51) and specificity of 76% (159/210) for a DT cut-off of ≥4; with a corresponding AUC of 0.825 for mood with sensitivity 78% (28/36) and specificity 71% (159/225). Treatment with radiotherapy and a longer consultation time were associated with significant distress (DT ≥4). Significant distress was also reported in two third of those reporting less than “Good” overall QOL. Distress levels were particularly associated with poor Social–Emotional function, more so than the association seen with poor physical function. DT is a reasonable screening tool for distress in the HNC population. The DT cut-off score ≥4 was effective in identifying those with significant distress. Significant distress is associated in survivors with poor health-related quality of life, those who received radiotherapy and patients who have longer consultation times in clinic.
KeywordsDistress Head and neck cancer University of Washington Quality of Life Distress thermometer Screening
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
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