Preliminary investigation of symptom distress in the head and neck patient population: Validation of a measurement instrument

Heather A. Jones, Diane Hershock, Mitchell Machtay, Ara A. Chalian, Randal S. Weber, Gregory S. Weinstein, Karen Schumacher, Morton M. Kligerman, Jessie A. Berlin, David I. Rosenthal

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21 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Observations indicate that the acute toxicity of chemoradiation for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck is not the same as that which occurs with radiation therapy alone. Thus, the specific aim of this pilot study was to estimate the reliability and validity of a modified version of a symptom distress scale used to assess the qualitative difference in symptom distress between the 2 populations. METHODS: Over a period of 4 months a consecutive sample of 56 patients with head and neck cancer were recruited from the Department of Radiation Oncology to take part in our pilot study. The Cancer Disease and Treatment Concern Scale (CDTCS) was modified by adding 15 additional items and called the Head and Neck Distress Scale (HNDS). All dimensions were interrogated with at least four questions and a domain score was generated. In addition, the Head and Neck Radiotherapy Questionnaire (HNRQ), an established 22-item multidimensional questionnaire was also administered by interview after completion of the HNDS. RESULTS: Fifty-six patients, 32 chemoradiation patients (mean age 64 years) completed the HNDS, taking 8 to 10 minutes to complete. The HNDS scores correlated well with the HNRQ scores (r = 0.835), demonstrating an acceptable level of content and concurrent validity. There was a significant difference in the overall HNDS scores between the chemoradiation group and the radiation therapy group (ANOVA, P = 0.001). CONCLUSION: The HNDS is a valid measure of acute symptom distress and appears able to discriminate between the chemoradiation and radiation alone patients. There is considerable variation in symptoms that cause these patients distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-162
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology: Cancer Clinical Trials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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