Assessment of Emotional Distress in Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy: A Case Study at the National Centre for Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine, Korle-Bu

Naomi Oyoe Ohene-Oti, Ernestina A. Addy, Charles Agyemang, Verna Vanderpuye


Emotional distress is a common symptom experienced by most cancer patients which is difficult to detect and if detected, only a small percentage receives treatment. It becomes worse over the course of treatment and after the end of therapy which negatively impact on the quality of life of the patients. This study looked at the prevalence of emotional distress of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and the factors that affects emotional distress. A cross-sectional study was done with 150 participants receiving chemotherapy at the National Centre for Radiotherapy, Korle-Bu. Data were collected using structured self-rated questionnaires. Emotional distress was assessed using the Hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS) and linked with their clinical characteristics from their medical records. Chi-square was used to examine the factors that affect emotional distress. Out of 150 participants, 89(59.3%) were distressed. More females were more distressed than men. Analysis indicated that the younger the age, low income level,   being employed and low educational status affects distress level. Common side effects of chemotherapy experienced by the patients were also related to high levels of distress. Emotional distress is relatively high in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and it is affected by younger age, low income level, being employed and low educational status. Early detection and intervention of distress during chemotherapy will be easier if health professionals especially the oncology nurse screen patients before and during chemotherapy so as to know those who are vulnerable and need psychological care.

Keywords: cancer, emotional distress, chemotherapy, hospital anxiety and depression scale, tumours

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