Background. Children undergoing cancer treatment face a number of emotional, physical, and other problems leading to distress that need to be identified in a timely fashion. Regular assessment of patients’ and their caregivers’ psychosocial health care needs during the patients’ hospital stays has become the standard of psychological care.
Objective. This study was conducted to determine the validity of the Distress Rating Scale (DRS) on a Russian pediatric sample. The DRS appeared to be a reliable pediatric measure of patients’ distress level.
Design. One hundred fifty-nine (159) children of ages 7-17 with cancer and blood disorders, 153 caregivers, and 51 physicians were included in our study. Forty-five families were re-assessed as a test-retest group after a four-week interval. The DRS was validated through the use of the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI) by M. Kovacs and by the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL 4.0).
Results. The convergent validity of the DRS's Russian version was shown by the reasonable agreement between the children's distress level and standardized measure scores. The criterion validity was demonstrated by significant correlations between the children’s DRS self-reports, and those of their parents and physicians. The robustness and consistency of the results in the primary and repeated assessments between the DRS, the CDI, and the PedsQL, proved the reliability of the scale. Age-specific cut-off scores were determined.
Conclusion. The Russian version of the DRS is a valid tool for rapid and reliable assessment of children’s emotional distress in order to identify their needs for psychological assistance in a timely manner.
Keywords: oncology; pediatric; distress; screening; thermometer; validation; psychological adjustment, Distress Rating Scale (DRS)