(April 11, 2019) – Associate Professor Kristin K. Ownby, Ph.D., R.N., Department of Undergraduate Studies and director of the Pacesetter BSN Program, recently published her study of a common, self-reporting tool to effectively screen for distress symptoms in cancer patients.

Ownby, K. Use of the Distress Thermometer in Clinical Practice. Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology. 2019;10(2):175-179. doi.org/10.6004/jadpro.2019.10.2.7

Ownby examines the overall efficacy of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Distress Thermometer (NCCN DT), developed in 1998 and now widely used as a screening tool to identify sources of distress in all cancer patients.

She finds that the NCCN DT is a tool with “with well-established validity and brevity” that is available in 26 languages, including Spanish, and it is “easy for the provider to interpret.” However, institutional shortcomings and other factors sometimes pose barriers to screening – including the possibility that patients may have trouble understanding what the word “distress” means in the context of the instrument.