Defining the Symptom Cluster: How Far Have We Come?

Andrea Barsevick
Seminars in Oncology Nursing 2016, 32 (4): 334-350

OBJECTIVES: To examine the evolution of the concept of the symptom cluster through literature synthesis and identify knowledge gaps.

DATA SOURCES: Published literature.

CONCLUSION: A robust body of research has developed showing that clusters of symptoms can be identified empirically with modest evidence of convergence across methods. The science would benefit from a coordinated effort of qualitative studies to ensure that appropriate symptoms are evaluated; empirical symptom cluster identification studies building upon qualitative work; and subgroup identification studies based on empirically defined symptom clusters.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Work is needed to demonstrate the value of symptom cluster identification in guiding symptom assessment and management for cancer patients and survivors.

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