Publication Abstract

Authors: Lazenby M, Sebego M, Swart NC, Lopez L, Peterson K

Title: Symptom Burden and Functional Dependencies Among Cancer Patients in Botswana Suggest a Need for Palliative Care Nursing.

Journal: Cancer Nurs 39(1):E29-38

Date: 2016 Jan-Feb

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Palliative care and cancer nursing in sub-Saharan Africa is hampered by inadequate clinical resources and evidence base but is central to symptom management amid the growing cancer burden. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to describe symptom burden and functional dependencies of cancer patients in Botswana using the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale-Short Form (MSAS-SF) and Enforced Social Dependency Scale (ESDS). METHODS: A cross-sectional multisite study was conducted in Gaborone, Botswana, from June to August 2013 using MSAS-SF, ESDS, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status at 1 time point. Descriptive statistics, tests of association, correlation, and scale validity were used. RESULTS: Among the 100 cancer patients, 65 were women, 21 were inpatients, 48 were human immunodeficiency virus-positive, 23 had gynecological malignancies, 34 had stage 4 disease, and 54 received chemotherapy only. Sixty-four reported pain; 54, neuropathies; 51, weight loss; and 51, hunger. Most distressing symptoms were weight loss, body image, skin changes, and pain. Recreational/social role was most affected by cancer. Cronbach's α for both the MSAS-SF and ESDS was .91. Variations in means for MSAS-SF and ESDS were associated with ECOG grade 2 (P < .05); the ECOG moderately correlated (0.35) with MSAS-SF (P < .01). No associations with human immunodeficiency virus status were found. CONCLUSIONS: Patients reported distressing levels of cancer pain, weight loss, hunger, and dependency in recreational/social activities. The Setswana translations of the MSAS-SF and ESDS were found reliable to assess cancer patients' symptoms and function. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Nurses trained in palliative care are needed to meet cancer patients' pain and symptom management care needs.