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Psychological, Physical, and Social Situation of Polish Patients With Colorectal Cancer Undergoing First-Line Palliative Chemotherapy

Ewa Sierko
Maria T. Werpachowska
Marek Z. Wojtukiewicz
ONF 2011, 38(4), E253-E259 DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.E253-E259

Purpose/Objectives: To assess the psychological, physical, and social situations and needs of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease.

Design: Quantitative, descriptive.

Setting: An urban comprehensive cancer center in northeastern Poland.

Sample: 50 patients undergoing first-line palliative chemotherapy.

Methods: Participants were asked to fill out an institution-developed questionnaire assessing personal, emotional, physical, and social data.

Main Research Variables: Psychological, physical, and social characteristics.

Findings: The most frequently reported side effects of chemotherapy were asthenia, loss of taste, and nausea and vomiting. In addition, about 54% of patients were unable to work during treatment. Chemotherapy administration resulted in severe or moderate impediment of activities of daily living in 74% of the patients and negatively influenced their financial situation. About 25% of the patients were reluctant to share the news of their disease with their coworkers; however, most revealed their diagnosis to friends and family. The majority (62%) of patients expected help from family members. Nurses provided emotional support to a much lesser extent than patients' immediate relatives. The majority of patients (80%) needed to express their feelings by talking, but only about 30% considered a nurse to be the preferred person with whom to discuss their disease.

Conclusions: Patients with CRC diagnosed at an advanced stage require considerably more emotional, informative, and instrumental support from nurses, doctors, family, other patients, and priests than was anticipated by the authors.

Implications for Nursing: Extending routine history taking via the addition of questions to the proposed questionnaire may help to better recognize a particular patient's situation and unique needs. An increasingly patient-focused approach could improve the individual nursing care in this region of Europe. Ultimately, a multidisciplinary team would be required to meet the needs of patients with CRC undergoing chemotherapy.

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