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Distress thermometer code N[N]

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Help on this termValue Domain
METeOR identifier:Help on this term573491
Registration status:Help on this termHealth, Standard 04/02/2015
Definition:Help on this termA code set representing the values on the distress thermometer.

Representational attributes

Representation class:Help on this termCode
Data type:Help on this termNumber
Format:Help on this termN[N]
Maximum character length:Help on this term2

Collection and usage attributes

Guide for use:Help on this term

Using a visual distress thermometer (see the Collection methods section below for an example), ask the person to indicate the level of distress that they have experienced in the past week on a scale from 0-10, where 0 indicates ‘No distress’ and 10 indicates ‘Extreme distress’.

Valid values are 0 to 10.
Collection methods:Help on this term

Using the image below as a reference, patients are given the instruction “Circle the number (0-10) that best describes how much distress you have been experiencing in the past week including today" and are given the opportunity to circle a number on the paper or an electronic distress thermometer.

An image of the distress thermometer

Comments:Help on this term

The distress thermometer has been found to have reasonable sensitivity and specificity for general distress, depression and anxiety (Mitchell, 2007) and to be comparable, as a screening tool, with longer measures of psychological symptoms (Mitchell, 2010). It should be noted that while the distress thermometer is valuable as a screening tool, it is not a replacement for careful clinical assessment and management.

Reproduced with permission from the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Distress Management (V.3.2012). © 2012 National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. Available at: Accessed [June 12, 2012]. To view the most recent and complete version of the NCCN Guidelines®, go on-line to

Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:Help on this termCancer Australia
Reference documents:Help on this term

Mitchell AJ (2007). Pooled results from 38 analyses of the accuracy of distress thermometer and other ultra-short methods of detecting cancer-related mood disorder. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 25:4670-4681.

Mitchell AJ (2010). Short Screening Tools for Cancer-Related Distress: A Review and Diagnostic Validity Meta-Analysis. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 8:487-494.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2012). NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Distress Management. Retrieved from

Relational attributes

Data elements implementing this value domain:Help on this term

Person—distress status in past week, distress thermometer code N[N] Health, Standard 04/02/2015

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