No instrument to assess autonomy problems in palliative care is currently available. The purpose of this study was to develop a comprehensive and concise questionnaire to measure autonomy problems in palliative cancer patients and to study its validity and reliability. We systematically developed a questionnaire through: a) a literature review of the concepts and elements of autonomy; b) qualitative analysis of interviews with patients and professional carers; c) the construction of questionnaires; and d) testing validity and reliability. The basic conceptual elements were: dependency, losing control, and limitation of activities. Patients with disseminated cancer in the palliative stage of the disease (n = 64) participated in the study. A 9-item Patient Autonomy Questionnaire (PAQ) was developed (Cronbach's alpha 0.86), followed by a concise 4-item version (PAQs) (Cronbach's alpha 0.71). Autonomy problems were more prevalent than pain problems. The development of the PAQ may help draw attention to autonomy problems.