Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This study explored the symptom experience of patients receiving epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors (EGFRIs) for breast, colon, head and neck, and colon cancer. EGFRIs are targeted therapies used at various points along the treatment continuum for these solid tumors, and may be first, second or third-line agents which can be used as single agents or in combination with other therapies. The most common side effect of these agents include dermatologic effects, such as rashes, hair, and nail changes, but they can also contribute to other side effects such as fatigue, anxiety and diarrhea. Most previous work has addressed the dermatologic side effects and has not addressed the holistic patient experience. A descriptive, correlational design, guided by the theory of unpleasant symptoms, explored the overall symptom experience, including dermatologic and other symptoms, in patients receiving these treatments. The relationship of key variables (age, diagnosis, gender, EGFRI therapy, and symptom clusters) to the outcomes of quality of life, psychological status, and functional status was explored. Co-occurring symptoms (symptom clusters) were identified by factor analysis procedures. Three symptom clusters were identified: a psychological-cognitive cluster; a treatment-related dermatologic cluster that has not been previously identified as a symptom cluster; and, a mucocutaneous and fatigue cluster. These symptom clusters had differing impacts on outcomes, so knowledge of the effects of these symptom clusters can guide nursing practice in the care of patients receiving these targeted therapies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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