Original Research

A Descriptive, Longitudinal Study of Quality of Life and Perceived Health Needs in Patients With Head and Neck Cancer

S. Kate Sandstrom,(1) RN, MSN, APRN-BC, AOCN®, Susan R. Mazanec,(1,2) PhD, RN, AOCN®, Haley Gittleman,(2) MS, Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan,(2) PhD, Nancy Tamburro,(1) LISW-S, and Barbara J. Daly,(1,2) PhD, RN, FAAN

(1)Seidman Cancer Center, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio; (2)Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio

Authors’ disclosures of potential conflicts of interest are found at the end of this article.

Susan K. (Kate) Sandstrom, RN, MSN, APRN-BC, AOCN®, Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, 11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106. E-mail: kate.sandstrom@uhhospitals.org


J Adv Pract Oncol 2016;7:640–651 | doi: 10.6004/jadpro.2016.7.6.6 | © 2016 Harborside Press®


  

ABSTRACT

Abstract

Patients with head and neck cancer have numerous concerns and symptoms in the first year of posttreatment survivorship and are especially vulnerable at the end of treatment and 1 month posttreatment. This article shares the findings of a descriptive, longitudinal study of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with head and neck cancer from the beginning of treatment through 12 months posttreatment. The primary objective of this study was to describe the symptom experience and health needs of patients receiving radiation for head and neck cancer to support the establishment of an advanced practitioner (AP) clinic for head and neck cancer survivors. Significant findings in this study showed HRQOL at the end of treatment was significantly lower than baseline (p < .001). Low scores persisted through 1 month, with gradual recovery by 12 months. Fatigue and anxiety had the highest mean scores, yet anxiety improved with time, whereas fatigue did not. Positive human papillomavirus status was statistically associated with higher anxiety. Socioeconomic status negatively impacted HRQOL. Themes of perceived health needs were managing oral symptoms, returning to a normal life, and regaining energy. The AP in oncology can play a pivotal role in providing comprehensive assessment, symptom management, health education, and supportive counseling in this population throughout treatment and survivorship.




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