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Symptom Screening in Pediatrics Tool in children and adolescents with high-risk malignancies: a pilot study


Objective Childhood and adolescent cancer can result in high burden of distressing symptoms, particularly in high-risk malignancies. The Symptom Screening in Pediatrics Tool (SSPedi) is a reliable and valid approach to measure bothersome symptoms in paediatric patients receiving cancer treatments. Objective was to describe the feasibility of using SSPedi administration among paediatric patients with high-risk malignancies.

Methods We conducted a single-centre, cross-sectional study of patients aged 8–18 years with high-risk malignancies in a French paediatric oncology unit. Patients self-reported the degree of bothersome symptoms using SSPedi and difficulty with SSPedi completion. The total SSPedi Score ranging from 0 to 60 (where 60 is worst) and most common moderately bothersome symptoms (scored ≥2 on 0–4 Likert Scale) were described. Feasibility was defined as more than 75% of patients agreeing to participate and more than 90% completion of SSPedi questionnaire.

Results Out of 16 patients approached, 1 declined participation. Median age was 13 years (IQR 8–19). All were able to self-report SSPedi without difficulty. Patients experienced a median number of 6 (range 0–15) bothersome symptoms (score >0). The mean total SSPedi Score was 12 (SD=9.4). Most common moderately bothersome symptoms were pain (8/15), changes in hunger (8/15) and feeling tired (7/15).

Conclusion Patient-reported symptom assessment among children and adolescents with high-risk malignancies is feasible using SSPedi. These patients experience a high burden of bothersome symptoms.

  • cancer
  • end of life care
  • pain
  • paediatrics
  • supportive care
  • symptoms and symptom management

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