PURPOSE: To explore patient-reported symptom distress in relation to documentation of symptoms and palliative care designation in hospital inpatients.
DESIGN: This cross-sectional study analyzed data from 710 inpatients at two large hospitals in Sweden using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale and the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale. Chart reviews focused on nurses' and physicians' symptom documentation and palliative turning point.
METHODS: Descriptive statistics were calculated for all variables and provided summaries about the sample. Patients were grouped according to gender, age, palliative care designation, and symptom documentation. The t test and chi-square test were used to calculate whether symptom distress varied between groups. A two-way analysis of variance was conducted for multiple comparisons to explore the impact of gender and age on mean symptom distress.
FINDINGS: Females reported higher levels of symptom distress than did males related to pain, fatigue, and nausea. When comparing symptom distress between males and females with documentation pertaining to symptoms, there were significant differences implying that females had to report higher levels of symptom distress than males in order to have their symptoms documented.
CONCLUSIONS: Females need to report higher levels of symptom distress than do males for healthcare professionals to identify and document their symptoms. It can be hypothesized that females are not receiving the same attention and symptom alleviation as men. If so, this highlights a serious inequality in care that requires further exploration.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Considering that common reasons why people seek health care are troublesome symptoms of illness, and that the clinical and demographic characteristics of inpatients are changing towards more advanced ages with serious illnesses, inadequate symptom assessment and management are a serious threat to the care quality.
2016. Vol. 48, no 6, 569-576 p.
Patient-reported symptom distress, Nursing documentation, Palliative care designation