cancer symptom burden, oncology nursing, palliative care, symptom assessment, validated instruments



  1. Swart, Norman Carl PhD, MSN, APRN
  2. Zhang, Amy PhD
  3. Lazenby, Mark PhD, MSN, APRN


This cross-sectional study evaluated the acceptability and feasibility of oncology nurses using validated cancer symptom assessment instruments to assess symptom burden. A consecutive sample of cancer patients and oncology ward nurses at a hospital in Gaborone, Botswana, was used. Patients' symptom burden was assessed using the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale-Short Form and the Visual Analog Scale-Pain, and patient- and nurse-acceptability data were assessed using the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire and the Intervention Rating Profile. Rates of participation, assessment length of time, and rates of completed Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale-Short Form and Visual Analog Scale-Pain determined feasibility. The sample included 124 patients (female, 84) and 20 nurses (female, 14). The mean (SD) Client Satisfaction Questionnaire score was 30.1 (2.8; minimum-maximum, 19-32), and the mean (SD) Intervention Rating Profile score was 86.8 (4.3; minimum-maximum, 74-90). There was a significant difference in the scores of the Intervention Rating Profile between preassessment (mean [SD], 80.1 [6.0]) and postassessment (mean [SD], 86.8 [4.3]; t19 = -4.853, P < .001). All patient participants (100%) completed assessments. The routine nursing assessment was acceptable to and feasible among patients and nurses. Nurses can integrate validated instruments into routine nursing assessment to determine patients' symptom burden for quick referrals to palliative care.