Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Assessing the reliability of patient, nurse, and family caregiver symptom ratings in hospitalized advanced cancer patients.

Nekolaichuk CL, Maguire TO, Suarez-Almazor M, Rogers WT, Bruera E. Assessing the reliability of patient, nurse, and family caregiver symptom ratings in hospitalized advanced cancer patients. Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 1999 Nov 1; 17(11):3621-30.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the reliability of symptom assessments in advanced cancer patients under various conditions, including multiple raters (patients, nurses, and family caregivers), occasions, and symptoms. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The study sample consisted of 32 advanced cancer patients admitted to a tertiary palliative care unit. Symptom assessments were completed for each patient on two separate occasions, approximately 24 hours apart. On each occasion, the patient, the primary care nurse, and a primary family caregiver independently completed an assessment using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS). The ESAS is a nine-item visual analogue scale for assessing symptoms in palliative patients. The reliability of the assessments (r) was examined using generalizability theory. RESULTS: Three important findings emerged from this analysis. First, the analysis of individual symptom ratings provided a more meaningful representation of the symptom experience than total symptom distress ratings. Secondly, patients, nurses, and caregivers varied in their ratings across different patients, as well as in their ratings of shortness of breath, which may have been a result of individual rater variability. Finally, reliability estimates (r), based on a single rater and one occasion, were less than.70 for all symptoms, except appetite. These estimates improved substantially (r > / = .70) for all symptoms except anxiety and shortness of breath, using three raters on a single occasion or two raters across two occasions. CONCLUSION: The findings from this study reinforce the need for the development of an integrated symptom assessment approach that combines patient and proxy assessments. Further research is needed to explore individual differences among raters.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.