Use of the Distress Thermometer in Cancer Survivors: Convergent Validity and Diagnostic Accuracy in a Spanish Sample

Yolanda Andreu Vaillo

Paula Martínez Lopez

María J. Galdón Garrido

cancer survivors, Distress Thermometer, psychosocial distress, diagnostic accuracy
ONF 2019, 46(4), 442-450. DOI: 10.1188/19.ONF.442-450

Objectives: To explore the performance of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer (DT) as a distress screening tool in cancer survivors.

Sample & Setting: 236 Spanish adult-onset cancer survivors who visited the Fundación Instituto Valenciano de Oncología in Valencia, Spain, for follow-up appointments.

Methods & Variables: Survivors completed the DT and the Brief Symptom Inventory 18 (BSI-18), which has established a cutoff score for identifying clinically significant distress.

Results: Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis of the DT scores relative to the BSI-18 cutoff score showed good overall accuracy. For a score of 5 or greater, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and clinical utility indexes indicated that the DT appeared to be satisfactory for screening but had restricted use for case finding.

Implications for Nursing: Screening for and responding to distress is considered an important part of nursing practice. The DT is suitable for use as a first-stage, quick-detection instrument in a two-step screening process to rule out noncases among Spanish post-treatment cancer survivors.

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