Graduation Date


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Director of the Honors Program

Gigi Gokcek, PhD

First Reader

Luanne Linnard-Palmer, EdD, RN

Second Reader

Joan Battaini, RN


Background: The purpose of this paper is to identify present methods at relieving anxiety and distress in adult oncology patients. According to the American Cancer Association (2016), 1.7 million American will be diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and therefore, it is important for nurses to be competent caregivers to this growing patient population.

Literature Review: A comprehensive review of current literature showed that consistent, competent caregivers, honest communication from the medical team, back massage, and music therapy were effective at cutting mean anxiety and distress scores by as much as 50 percent. Sixteen peer-reviewed articles from around the world and published in the last three years, plus one seminal article from 2004 were included in the literature review.

Research: A phenomenological interview process with nine volunteers from a convenience snowball sample, who were diagnosed and treated over the age of 18 in California.

Findings: Oncology patients benefit from personal coping methods such as: having a strong support system, having either personal or religious faith, and staying busy throughout their treatment. Medical personnel can supplement patient coping by providing clear expectations, by being compassionate and forthright, by prefacing negatives with positives, and by ensuring clinical competency in the skills performed.