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A comparison of symptoms in older hospitalised cancer and non-cancer patients in need of palliative care : a secondary analysis of two cross-sectional studies

  • Van Lancker, Aurélie
  • Van Hecke, Ann
  • Verhaeghe, Sofie
  • Mattheeuws, Matthias
  • Beeckman, Dimitri
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2018
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Background: Evidence on the differences in symptom patterns between older palliative cancer and non-cancer patients is lacking. The purpose of the study was to determine the differences in symptoms between older hospitalised palliative cancer and non-cancer patients. Methods: A secondary analysis of two multi-centre cross-sectional studies was performed. A validated instrument was used to assess the frequency and intensity of 40 symptoms in older hospitalised palliative cancer patients (n = 100) and older palliative non-cancer patients (n = 100). The data were collected between March 2013 and June 2015. Differences between groups were measured statistically. Results: Overall, similarities in symptom patterns were observed between cancer and non-cancer patients. Some minor differences were detected between the groups. Non-cancer patients experienced significantly more physical symptoms and functional dependence than cancer patients. Patients with cancer experienced higher levels of frequency and intensity of psychological symptoms compared to non-cancer patients. Conclusions: Healthcare professionals should be aware of the high occurrence of symptoms in both cancer and non-cancer patients, and they should be educated about the systematic assessment of symptoms in multiple domains by accounting for the occurrence of generic symptoms and disease-specific symptoms.

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