Tools for assessing nausea, vomiting, and retching

Cancer Nurs. 2011 Jan-Feb;34(1):E14-24. doi: 10.1097/ncc.0b013e3181e2cd79.


Background: Chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, and retching are recognized as having an impact on patients' overall physical well-being, quality of life, and treatment decisions. Although there are many tools available to measure aspects of these symptoms, few offer a complete and concise clinical assessment.

Objective: The purpose of this article was to provide a comprehensive overview of the various instruments available for the assessment of cancer-related nausea, vomiting, and retching. Analysis included symptoms measured, period evaluated, type of questions posed, and aspects of each symptom measured.

Methods: Searches were conducted to find relevant articles using nationally recognized oncology Web sites and 4 electronic databases including PubMed, MEDLINE/CINAHL and CINAHL/EBSCO, and Cochrane.

Results: This review includes a total of 25 instruments that were identified as meeting the inclusion criteria of having been developed, or adapted, for the adult population, with an oncology focus.

Conclusion: The ideal instrument would include measurement of all 3 symptoms while remaining clear, concise, and clinically relevant.

Implications for practice: Although only 1 instrument came close to meeting these criteria, this review provides nurses with specific information on a variety of instruments to assist providers in selecting the most appropriate instrument for their specific clinical setting. This comprehensive critique of instruments is important for nurses attempting to select a tool to guide optimum care for patients in the clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Nausea / diagnosis*
  • Nausea / nursing
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / nursing
  • Nursing Assessment / methods*
  • Oncology Nursing / methods*
  • Quality of Life
  • Vomiting / chemically induced
  • Vomiting / diagnosis*
  • Vomiting / nursing


  • Antineoplastic Agents