This paper employs a comparative descriptive design to compare primary family caregivers' assessment of lung cancer patients' symptom distress with patients' own perceptions of symptom distress in the home setting. The second part describes the results of the qualitative component of this research. A convenience sample of 37 patient-family caregiver dyads completed the McCorkle and Young Symptom Distress Scale (SDS). Family caregivers' global scores were moderately correlated with patients' global scores (r = 0.71; P < 0.001). No significant differences in ratings were found for 10 of the 13 symptoms assessed. Therefore, when the patient is unable to provide a self-report of symptom distress, health-care professionals may seriously consider family caregivers' assessments of patients' symptom distress to be reasonable estimates for at least 10 of the 13 symptoms on the SDS.
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