Is there a biological basis for the clustering of symptoms?

Christine Miaskowski, Bradley E Aouizerat
Seminars in Oncology Nursing 2007, 23 (2): 99-105

OBJECTIVES: To examine symptom clusters in oncology patients; to determine if these symptom clusters might share a common biologic mechanism; and to describe potential biologic mechanisms that warrant investigation.

DATA SOURCES: Synthesis of the theoretical and research papers on symptom clusters.

CONCLUSION: Definitive conclusions about whether there is a biologic basis for the clustering of symptoms cannot be determined at this time. The animal model of sickness behavior holds promise as a potential biologic mechanism for clustering symptoms.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Until more definitive studies of symptom clusters are performed, clinicians need to monitor patients for the co-occurrence of multiple symptoms and develop appropriate management plans.

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