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Distress Management in Patients With Head and Neck Cancer Before Start of Palliative Chemotherapy: A Practical Approach

In Journal of Global Oncology
By: Patil V.
Contributor(s): Noronha V | Joshi A | Deodhar J | Goswami S | Chakraborty S | Ramaswamy A | Dhumal S | Chandrakanth MV | Karpe A | Pande N | Talreja V | Chandrasekharan A | Turkar S | Prabhash K [Corresponding author].
Material type: materialTypeLabelArticlePublisher: 2018Description: .Subject(s): Stress management | Head and neck cancer | Palliative chemotherapy In: Journal of Global Oncology Vol. 4, p.1-10 Summary: Purpose This study reports the incidence of distress, the factors associated with distress, and a practical strategy to resolve distress in patients with head and neck cancer who are starting palliative chemotherapy. Methods Adult patients with head and neck cancer planned for palliative chemotherapy underwent distress screening before the start of treatment as part of this single-arm prospective study. Patients who had a distress score > 3 on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) distress thermometer were counseled initially by the clinician. Those who continued to have high distress after the clinician-led counseling were referred to a clinical psychologist and were started on palliative chemotherapy. After counseling, distress was measured again. The relation between baseline distress and compliance was tested using Fisher's exact test. Results Two hundred patients were enrolled, and the number of patients with high distress was 89 (44.5% [95% CI, 37.8% to 51.4%]). The number of patients who had a decrease in distress after clinician-led counseling (n = 88) was 52 (59.1% [95% CI, 48.6% to 68.8%]) and after psychologist-led counseling (n = 32) was 24 (75.0% [95% CI, 57.6% to 72.2%]; P = .136). Compliance rates did not differ between the patients with or without a high level of distress at baseline (74.2% v 77.4%, P = .620). Conclusion The incidence of baseline distress is high in patients awaiting the start of palliative chemotherapy. It can be resolved in a substantial number of patients using the strategy of clinician-led counseling, with additional referral to a clinical psychologist as required. Patients with a greater number of emotional problems usually require psychologist-led counseling.
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Purpose
This study reports the incidence of distress, the factors associated with distress, and a practical strategy to resolve distress in patients with head and neck cancer who are starting palliative chemotherapy.

Methods
Adult patients with head and neck cancer planned for palliative chemotherapy underwent distress screening before the start of treatment as part of this single-arm prospective study. Patients who had a distress score > 3 on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) distress thermometer were counseled initially by the clinician. Those who continued to have high distress after the clinician-led counseling were referred to a clinical psychologist and were started on palliative chemotherapy. After counseling, distress was measured again. The relation between baseline distress and compliance was tested using Fisher's exact test.

Results
Two hundred patients were enrolled, and the number of patients with high distress was 89 (44.5% [95% CI, 37.8% to 51.4%]). The number of patients who had a decrease in distress after clinician-led counseling (n = 88) was 52 (59.1% [95% CI, 48.6% to 68.8%]) and after psychologist-led counseling (n = 32) was 24 (75.0% [95% CI, 57.6% to 72.2%]; P = .136). Compliance rates did not differ between the patients with or without a high level of distress at baseline (74.2% v 77.4%, P = .620).

Conclusion
The incidence of baseline distress is high in patients awaiting the start of palliative chemotherapy. It can be resolved in a substantial number of patients using the strategy of clinician-led counseling, with additional referral to a clinical psychologist as required. Patients with a greater number of emotional problems usually require psychologist-led counseling.

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