Palliative patients get greater relief from early screening of symptoms and implementation of measures
Objective: The objective of the study is to elucidate palliative cancer patients’ self-reporting of symptoms on admission to and discharge from a palliative care unit.
Method: The study was conducted at the Palliative Care Unit, University Hospital North Norway, Harstad, in the period 2008–2016. The study uses data from the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS). The dataset is presented using descriptive statistics.
Results: The study comprised 274 patients, of whom 135 were women and 139 men. Fatigue, dry mouth and loss of appetite emerge as the most distressing symptoms. Women exhibited a greater symptom burden than men, with the exception of shortness of breath. There was a significant reduction in all symptoms on discharge.
Conclusion: Good palliative care entails that nurses are attentive to and have knowledge of the patients’ symptoms. Systematic registration of symptom data facilitates the detection of symptoms that might otherwise have been overlooked. Early screening and treatment may reduce the risk of major, problematic symptoms over a lengthy period, and therefore give improved quality of life.