Psychosocial and Functional Distress of Cancer Patients in A Tertiary Care Hospital: A Descriptive Cross-sectional Study

INTRODUCTION:

Global burden of cancer is witnessing an exponential increase. Nepal is no exception. In the recent years, cancer care has seen a focus shift towards holistic healing. This includes screening and assessing for psychosocial distress, allowing health care providers to deliver timely psychological interventions. The goal of this study was to find the prevalence of psychosocial and functional impact of cancer diagnoses in Nepal.

METHODS:

A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out on 169 cancer patients attending out-patient department, day-care and in-patient department at B.P. Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, Nepal. National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer was used to evaluate spiritual/religious concerns, practical, family, emotional and physical issues and the distress score of these patients.

RESULTS:

One-hundred and thirty eight (81.7%) of respondents had a Distress Thermometer score of ≥4. Distress Thermometer score of 7 was reported by the largest number of patients. Highest average Distress Thermometer scores were found in patients with hepatobiliary, head & neck and lung cancers. More than 50% of the patients reported to experience spiritual or religious concerns, fatigue, pain, worry and insurance or financial related concerns. Pain, sadness, worry and spiritual/religious concerns were significantly associated with distress levels. Sixty-two (36.7%) of respondents were in stage IV of cancer. Average Distress Thermometer score for patients in stage IV cancer was 5.69, the highest among all cancer stages. Ninety-six (56.8%) of the respondents were females, 73 (43.2%) were males. Gynaecological, haematological, gastrointestinal, head & neck and breast cancers were the top 5 cancer types.

CONCLUSIONS:

Cancer patients in Nepal have clinically significant psychosocial issues that directly impact on their distress.