This study is aims to explore the awareness of cancer diagnosis and its impact on distress and fatigue in patients with cancer.
Mixed method (exploratory design) was adopted for the study. Using purposive sampling method, patients (N = 132, M: 56 & F: 76) who were diagnosed with cancer or undergoing cancer treatment in Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital Delhi, India; aged between 16 to 77 years were included. An in-depth interview was carried out using a semi structured interview schedule which was audio recorded. Further Distress was also assessed using NCCN Distress thermometer. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed.
Themes emerged from analyzing the interviews were: awareness of diagnosis, awareness and social support, doctor-patient interaction, patient satisfaction and psycho-social issues. Irrespective of the knowledge of diagnosis, (82%) patients experienced clinically significant distress. Awareness of diagnosis had no effect on distress scores. Patients who were aware of their diagnosis were 66% and 13% had an insight of it and irrespective of the knowledge of their diagnosis, 75% of patients felt anxious, worried and apprehensive about their disease. Among the patients who were aware of the diagnosis, 54% felt they would be less distressed if diagnosis was not known however, good understanding of the disease and sharing with others was believed to help in coping by 74% and 92% of all patients respectively.
Majority of the patients were aware of their diagnosis. Fear, anxiety and worry were the most common reactions to diagnosis. Majority of the patients reported distress irrespective of their awareness of diagnosis. There was no impact of the knowledge of diagnosis on distress however more than half of them felt more distressed after knowing about their diagnosis. Majority of the patients were satisfied with their interaction with doctors and felt that good understanding of the disease and social support can be sought from friends and relatives that helps in coping.
Clinical trial identification
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.