A pilot study investigating the use of multiple assessment tools for diagnosing malignant pleural mesothelioma has found that one of the commonly used tests fell short when reflecting patients’ actual experience of pain. It also did not include many of the symptoms that patients brought up most frequently. The study concluded that a mixed methods approach would more fully capture patients’ experience.
Study Evaluates Mixed Methods Approach to Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The mesothelioma study, which was published in Oncology Nursing Forum, was conducted by nurse professionals from Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA, the Pless Center of Nursing Research in the Meyers College of Nursing at New York University in New York, and the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Its goal was to review integrating quantitative data with mesothelioma patients’ qualitative accounts of their symptoms.
One of the quantitative tools examined was the Lung Cancer Symptom Scale for Mesothelioma (LCSS-Meso). Researchers compared the data collected from that tool to interviews conducted with the patients, who had been treated at an academic medical center. The patients were asked wide-ranging questions about their symptoms, their physical functioning, and the emotions they were experiencing, including how it felt to be diagnosed with the rare and fatal asbestos-related disease.
Mesothelioma Symptom Severity and Other Aspects of Disease Missed by Tool
Among the study’s findings were shortcomings in the popular Lung Cancer Symptom Scale for Mesothelioma (LCSS-Meso). Though many symptoms that tool checks for were reported by patients, the severity of symptoms recorded on its scale did not match what patients were actually feeling, and other symptoms they were experiencing were not reflected at all. Pain scores showed as the second lowest in terms of discovery, yet pain was a symptom that patients perceived as severe and discussed most frequently. Neither distress nor trouble sleeping were measured by the LCSS-Meso scale at all, despite being a common complaint.
This shortcoming was one of the reasons for conducting the mesothelioma study. Its findings confirmed the authors’ theory that multiple approaches need to be taken to accurately reflect patient experience. They concluded, “Mixed-methods approaches can offer an opportunity to comprehensively describe symptoms experienced by people with MPM by integrating quantitative data with qualitative accounts that would be missed by quantitative data alone.”
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