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Interview with Prof. Dr. Susan Schneider at EONS 2016: How to reduce emotional distress in cancer patients
Dr. Susan Schneider´s research focusses on the management of emotional distress in cancer patients. In one of her recent studies she investigated whether patients who are undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation need to follow a restricted diet to decrease the risk of foodborne infections. Dr. Schneider´s study found no difference between infection rates in patients with or without diet restrictions. Dr. Schneider and her team recommend abandoning the neutropenic diet, which places an extraneous burden on patients and caregivers.
In general, to avert unnecessary burdens on cancer patients it is crucial that their emotional distress is measured and monitored. Patients who suffer from distress usually have a harder time coping with the treatment and its consequences. They also tend to have more severe symptoms, even though they do not always report their symptoms to the caregivers. By measuring their emotional distress, it is possible to identify those who need special support, be it through counselling or social help. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends the use of the distress thermometer to measure distress. Patients are asked to mark their distress on a thermometer-like scale from zero to ten. Many cancer centers in the US are now using it routinely, especially at the onset of treatment.
Susan Schneider is Professor at Duke University, School of Nursing, Durham, USA.This interview was recorded at EONS 2016 which took place in Dublin on October 17-18, 2016.