Aim: We investigated the value of the distress thermometer, a one-item screening tool, in childhood cancer survivors.
Methods: The participants were 286 childhood cancer survivors who visited an outpatient clinic at Erasmus MC University-Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, for the first time from 2001 to 2008 and completed the distress thermometer and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Higher scores reflected more distress. A HADS score ≥15 was used as the cut-off point for emotional distress. We calculated the correlation between the HADS and distress thermometer, the relationship between the HADS anxiety and the HADS depression ratings, and the distress score and the sensitivity and specificity for different cut-off scores of the distress thermometer.
Results: A moderate correlation was found between the HADS score and the distress thermometer (r: 0.56, p < 0.01, interclass correlation 0.40, p < 0.01). In total, 39% of the variability of distress, as measured by the distress thermometer, could be explained by the HADS anxiety and HADS depression ratings. A cut-off score of at least three on the distress thermometer resulted in a sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 79%.
Conclusion: The distress thermometer provided a rapid screening tool for identifying distressed childhood cancer survivors who needed further psychological support.

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Acta Paediatrica: promoting child health

van der Geest, I., van Dorp, W., Pluijm, S., & van den Heuvel-Eibrink, M. (2018). The distress thermometer provides a simple screening tool for selecting distressed childhood cancer survivors. Acta Paediatrica: promoting child health. doi:10.1111/apa.14251