Stress associated with an acute myeloid leukemia (AML) diagnosis and its treatment impacts not only patients, but also their family. Limited research is available on the relationship between psychologic symptoms, stress, and family needs following an AML diagnosis.
A longitudinal, descriptive, pilot study explored stress experienced by primary family member dyads. Tara Albrecht, PhD, ACNP-BC, from the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Nursing and VCU Massey Cancer Center, and co-authors presented the findings during a poster session at the ONS 42nd Annual Congress in Denver, CO. The poster was titled “Exploring the Effects of a Diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia on the Family System.”
Eight patients (mean age = 54 years) and eight family members (mean age = 58.8 years) were included in the study, all of whom were older than 18 years and spoke English. Study participants completed the following questionnaires every two weeks for six weeks:
- Perceived Stress Scale (0–56 points)
- Distress Thermometer (0–10)
- Numeric Rating Scale of Anxiety and Depression (0–10)
- Family Inventory of Needs (0–20)
- Salivary Stress Markets (collected in the afternoon)
See Table 1 for weekly symptom change and Table 2 for salivary stress markers.
At least 50% of patients and family members reported moderate to severe stress, distress, and anxiety throughout the entire study period (see Table 3). The family inventory of needs score went from 15.8 (SD = 5.3) at baseline to 11 (SD = 9.2) at week 6. Patient and family member symptoms did not statistically significantly differ.
“A diagnosis of AML increases psychological distress symptoms for families,” the authors concluded. “Thus, the development of innovative, supportive care interventions for patients and families is warranted.”