Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms uses the revised Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS-r). ESAS-r is a valid and reliable assessment tool that helps screen for the 9 symptoms commonly experienced by people with cancer. The assessment tool is a slightly modified version of the original tool developed by the Regional Palliative Care Program, Capital Health in Edmonton, Alberta.
Accessing Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms
This tool is designed to assist healthcare providers and patients in the assessment of: pain, tiredness, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, appetite, well-being and shortness of breath.
The severity of each symptom at the time of assessment is rated from 0 to 10 on a numerical scale – 0 meaning the symptom is absent and 10 that it is the worst possible severity. One blank scale is available for patients to identify and assess an “other problem” as needed.
The assessment is available in 2 formats: paper or electronic.
The paper option is available to healthcare providers and patients in many languages. Please select the language you would like to use.
Patients can complete the assessment electronically using the Your Symptoms Matter system. Your Symptoms Matter is available at kiosks, desktops or tablets in 14 regional cancer centres and 62 partner hospitals across Ontario. Patients simply select the options on the display to enter their score information.
Purpose of Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms
Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms was designed so patients, or their family caregivers, could self-report and directly communicate how they are feeling based on commonly experienced cancer symptoms. The tool is intended to help patients communicate the impact of cancer and treatments on their health status and quality of life.
The assessment tool provides a clinical profile of symptom severity over time, and establishes a context for understanding symptoms. For optimal symptom management, the tool should be used as a component of a holistic clinical assessment.
How to Complete Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms
If using the paper option, the patient circles the most appropriate number to indicate how they are feeling according to each symptom scale (e.g., no pain to worst possible pain).
Clinic staff then transcribe the circled number onto the medical chart (e.g., flow sheet) or graph the ESAS-r form and place it in the medical chart. Paper scores can be manually uploaded to the electronic option of the tool.
The electronic option uses the Interactive Symptom Assessment and Collection (ISAAC) system. Patients can enter their symptom score information on the ISAAC system via a kiosk, tablet or desktop. Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms is available on the ISAAC system in French and English.
The symptom scores entered in ISAAC are stored electronically. A histogram (bar graph) outlining the patient’s symptom scores over time can be printed out for review at the visit. Some centres include the histogram in the patient’s medical chart.
Words That Help Describe Symptoms
Some symptoms can be difficult to describe or rate. Here are alternative word choices:
- Depression – sad or blue
- Anxiety – nervousness or restlessness
- Tiredness – decreased energy level (but not necessarily sleepy)
- Drowsiness – sleepiness
- Well-being – overall comfort, both physical and otherwise; truthfully answering the question “How are you?”
When to Complete Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms
- Patients visiting a cancer centre – Patients are encouraged to complete Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms before each of their visits to the cancer centre, or as otherwise suggested by their healthcare team. Ultimately, the tool helps patients express how they are feeling and the symptoms that are most important to them at any given time.
- At home before cancer centre visit – Some centres offer patients the option to complete Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms from home. Patients can access their symptom screening tools by visiting the Your Symptoms Matter website.
Who Fills Out Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms
Ideally, patients fill out their own questionnaire, either using the paper-based or electronic version of the tool. However, if the patient is unable to independently complete Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms, then a caregiver (a family member or friend) or health professional closely involved with the patient’s care may assist.
Where to Document Your Symptoms Matter – General Symptoms
If the questionnaire is filled out using the electronic version of the tool, the information is automatically stored in the Your Symptoms Matter system (formerly Interactive Symptom Assessment and Collection, or ISAAC). From there, a histogram can be printed out for the medical chart.
If the questionnaire is completed on paper, clinic staff can manually enter scores into the system or transcribe them into the medical chart.