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INTRODUCTION: The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) defines distress as an unpleasant psychological, social and spiritual experience that interferes with ability to cope with the disease. Multiple studies show that prevalence varies between 30% and 40%. Its non-recognition makes it impossible to refer to specialized psychosocial care, which entails biopsychosocial costs and financial resources. In this sense, the NCCN proposed as a measure, the implementation of distress protocols, with a view to the systematic evaluation of patients at the therapeutic process.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Data from 80 oncological patients were collected. Each of them was evaluated in the outpatient clinic at the Cancer Department on CUF Porto Hospital, using clinical and socio-demographic data and the Distress Thermometer and the respective list of problems.
RESULTS: Data show an average distress of 5.01, with most patients at or above the cutoff point 5. The diagnoses with higher distress were head-neck, brain and urogenital tumors. The stage of disease with higher levels were relapsed, followed by treatment initiation and palliation. The most frequent problems by category were: preoccupation with domestic tasks, worry about children, nervousness/anxiety, and sleep problems. Of the patients, 23.8% were referred to Psychology/Psychiatry consultations after verbalizing this need.
CONCLUSION: The data obtained reveal high levels of distress, adequately identified and intervened when desired, as a result of the implementation of this screening program. This practice reinforces the models already existents that cover screening, technology, referral, and psychosocial intervention appropriate to particularities of each patient.