Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 1225–1232 | Cite as

An analysis of the distress thermometer problem list and distress in patients with cancer

  • Lisa VanHoose
  • Lora L. Black
  • Kimberly Doty
  • Dory Sabata
  • Philip Twumasi-Ankrah
  • Sarah Taylor
  • Rhonda Johnson
Original Article



Patients with a cancer diagnosis experience complex issues that can cause distress. The purpose of this study is to identify factors associated with overall distress for a diverse population of cancer survivors.


Researchers conducted a secondary data analysis of distress ratings (n = 1205) for people receiving outpatient care at a Midwestern US cancer center from 2005 to 2009 to describe the relationships between distress factors and need for assessment of distress. The screening tool was based on the distress thermometer (DT) scale and a modified problem list. Odds ratios and 95 % confidence intervals from this multivariable model were computed.


Statistical analysis revealed that the items on the problem list that most contribute to being at risk for distress include financial, worry, nervousness, getting around, and sleep. The most highly associated risk factor for distress was worry. Those that were at risk for high distress were 5.57 times more likely to endorse problems related to worry.


This research identifies which factors may be especially salient to the patient’s perception of distress and help guide clinicians in developing targeted screening strategies and specific interventions based on patient response to the DT. It also points to the need for future research to more clearly characterize distress from the patient perspective and determine when interventions may be indicated.


Cancer Distress Oncology 



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa VanHoose
    • 1
  • Lora L. Black
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kimberly Doty
    • 1
  • Dory Sabata
    • 1
  • Philip Twumasi-Ankrah
    • 3
  • Sarah Taylor
    • 1
  • Rhonda Johnson
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Kansas Medical CenterKansas CityUSA
  2. 2.University of KansasLawrenceUSA
  3. 3.University of Kansas School of MedicineWichitaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of Kansas Cancer CenterOverland ParkUSA

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