Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine how patients recall symptoms at a delayed self-report. Accurate insight into toxicity symptoms during chemotherapy is essential so that nurses and doctors can assess therapeutic tolerance and adjust supportive care accordingly.
Method: A non-experimental, longitudinal design was employed. Using the Therapy-Related Symptoms Checklist (TRSC), respondents (n = 142) reported their initial symptoms during the first 7 days of the chemotherapy cycle at two different times: (1) each day of the first seven days after the chemotherapy administration (immediate self-report), and (2) at their next hospital visit for chemotherapy (delayed self-report). We compared the number and severity of symptoms and side effects reported in the immediate and delayed self-reports.
Results: Respondents reported significantly fewer symptoms and fewer severe symptoms in the delayed self-report. For 22 out of 25 symptoms the delayed-reported grade was significantly lower than the immediate-reported maximum grade. Compared to the immediate-reported median grade, significant differences occurred in only 10 out of the 25 symptoms. In all cases, except fatigue, the delayed-reported grade was significantly higher than the immediate-reported median grade.
Conclusions: This study indicates that delayed self-report of chemotherapy side effects is not an appropriate measure of actual symptoms and side effects experienced by patients. Delayed self-report gives a weaker insight into actual symptom burden. Fatigue is at particular risk to be minimized at the delayed self-report. Therefore it is recommended to assess chemotherapy-related symptoms and side effects by means of immediate self-report.
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