Using a Novel System to Assess and Manage Post-Operative Pain and Other Symptoms in Patients with Lung Cancer

Principal Investigator: Charles Cleeland, Ph.D.

Symptom assessment in the care of cancer patients is often inadequate, and leads to unnecessary patient distress. Patients are often reluctant to report symptoms until they become very severe. Severe symptoms frequently lead to unnecessary emergency center visits and hospitalizations. And severe, persistent symptoms often reduce patient’s functional status and compromise quality of life after a successful surgery. A systematic improvement in symptom assessment could dramatically improve cancer care.

Specific Goals

This project will use a computer-based interactive voice response (IVR) symptom assessment system to:

  • Determine the pattern and severity of symptoms and the impact on daily function of postoperative pain and other symptoms in patients undergoing thoracic surgery for lung cancer 
  • Test the utility and efficacy of this system, coupled with feedback of information on symptom distress to providers, in reducing symptom-related distress and medical care utilization in these patients


The first part of this project will be a longitudinal study evaluating the pattern and severity of postoperative pain and other symptoms in patients undergoing thoracic surgery. The second part of this project will be a randomized clinical trial that will test the effectiveness of immediate feedback of symptom information obtained from this interactive voice response system to health care providers managing the care of these patients. The symptom information from control patients will be recorded for research purposes only.


Measures include the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory, Profile of Mood States and the SF12.

For more information

Contact Margaret Harle, B.S.N., O.C.N., at