Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the ability of Distress Thermometer (DT) scores to discern important differences in quality of life scores among women with breast cancer.
Methods: The National Comprehensive Cancer Network's DT, the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B), and a demographic questionnaire were completed by 111 women recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Results: Patients considered moderately to severely distressed (score ≥ 4 on DT) scored significantly lower on FACT-B QOL scales and subscales when compared to those in the group scoring 3 or below. For those scales for which minimally important differences (MIDs) have been established, differences between the two groups were 2-3 and a half times the established MID.
Conclusions: Moderately to severely distressed patients have significantly lower QOL than those with expected or mild distress. The DT provides a quick and easy screening tool to alert the healthcare team to clinically relevant alterations in patients' QOL.