Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Nursing

Major Professor

Susan C. McMillan, Ph.D., ARNP

Co-Major Professor

Joan Gregory, Ph.D., ARNP

Committee Member

Janine Overcash, Ph.D., ARNP

Keywords

end stage lung cancer, hospice patients, symptom management, symptom distress, symptom intensity

Abstract

There is evidence of a relationship between pain and associated symptoms, specifically constipation and dyspnea, and quality of life. Literature supports that endstage lung cancer patients suffer more symptoms than those with other types of cancers, and the course of treatment is primarily palliative, as many of these diagnosed patients cannot be cured. The purpose of this secondary analysis of data was to evaluate the relationships between pain and other common symptoms in end stage lung cancer patients in hospice care, and the relationships among pain, dyspnea, constipation and quality of life. The study sample included fifty lung cancer patients admitted to a hospice program, reporting pain. A series of Pearson’s correlations were used to analyze relationships between the variables pain intensity, pain distress, dyspnea intensity, dyspnea distress, constipation intensity and the relationships of these variables with quality of life. The results showed positive significant correlations between pain intensity and pain distress (r = .44, p = .002), dyspnea intensity and dyspnea distress (r = .47, p = .001), and constipation intensity and quality of life (r = -.57, p = .013). Pain and the relief of pain have been studied extensively in cancer patients, yet little research has been done in the way of side effects of opioid use, specifically constipation. This study reinforces to vi nursing the importance of a thorough assessment upon admission to hospice, and at each subsequent nursing visit, which includes a bowel habit history, current medications in use, potential risk for developing constipation and management of constipation once it is present.

Hospice patients with lung cancer are reporting a decrease in quality of life secondary to constipation. Prevention or rapid alleviation of this symptom will provide comfort and allow the patient to focus on important end of life tasks.

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