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Cancer symptoms: do patients, family caregivers and professionals agree?


Objectives To assess the level of agreement among patients, their family caregivers and health professionals regarding the symptoms presented by patients with cancer.

Methods This is a cross-sectional study carried out in patients with cancer admitted to a hospital in Brazil from December 2019 to July 2020. One family caregiver for each patient was included in the study. In addition, nurses and physicians involved in patient care were included. Patients, family caregivers and health professionals responded to the Palliative Outcome Scale (POS).

Results Sixty-one patients with their family caregivers, 18 nurses and 8 physicians were included. Physicians reported a lower mean POS score than patients (p=0.008). In general, physicians and nurses underestimated the anxiety of the patient and the anxiety of the family caregivers and how much the patient feels that his or her life is worthwhile. Intraclass correlation coefficient showed moderate and good levels of agreement between patients’ and family caregivers’ responses (0.61). Agreement between patient and nurse (0.02) and physician (0.21) responses was poor.

Conclusions The level of agreement between patients and healthcare professionals was very poor regarding patients’ symptoms. However, the caregiver’s perception of the patient’s symptoms can be a reliable source of information.

  • Pain
  • Communication

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