The predictive value of symptoms for anxiety in hospice inpatients with advanced cancer

Palliat Support Care. 2018 Oct;16(5):602-607. doi: 10.1017/S1478951517000785. Epub 2017 Sep 25.


ABSTRACTObjective:Insight into symptoms as predictors for anxiety may help to foster early identification of anxiety and to ameliorate anxiety management. The aim of this study was to determine which frequently occurring symptoms are predictors for anxiety in advanced cancer patients recently admitted to a hospice.

Method: Symptom burden was measured in patients admitted to a hospice who died ≤3 month after admission using the Utrecht Symptom Diary. This is a Dutch-translated and adapted version of the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System to self-assess the 11 most prevalent symptoms and overall well-being on a 0-10 numerical rating scale. Multiple linear regression analysis was employed to analyze the predictive value of fatigue, nausea, pain, dyspnea, depressed mood, insomnia, and well-being on anxiety.

Results: A total of 211 patients were included, 42% of whom were men, and the median age was 71 years (range = 31-95). Anxiety was uncommon and rarely severe: 25% had a score ≥1, and 14% had a score >3. After correction for age, gender, and marital status, depressed mood (p = 0.00) and dyspnea (p = 0.01) were independent predictors for anxiety and explained 23% of the variance in anxiety.

Significance of results: Hospice inpatients with advanced cancer who suffer from dyspnea and/or depressed mood are at increased risk for anxiety. Treatment of dyspnea and depressed mood may contribute to adequate anxiety management. Further research should explore other factors associated with anxiety, especially in the psychological, social, and spiritual domains.

Keywords: Advanced cancer; Anxiety; Hospice care; Palliative care; Symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Cost of Illness
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Female
  • Hospices / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Netherlands
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Syndrome*