The present study examines differences, associations and agreement in cancer patients' and their nurses' ratings of cancer patients' coping resources, emotional distress and quality of life. The study sample includes 90 individual patient-nurse pairs. The patient and nurse in each pair independently completed the Cancer Behaviour Inventory, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-being. The results indicate a distinct pattern in which nurses overestimate patients' emotional distress and underestimate patients' coping resources and quality of life. A nurse who overestimated a patient's emotional distress and underestimated his/her resources for handling the situation was also likely to underestimate the patient's quality of life. Patient-nurse pairs who demonstrated consistent agreement differed from remaining pairs in that they had a larger percentage of nurses with advanced education and previous responsibility for their patients' care and in that they had higher frequencies of patients who had previously received care at the ward >5 days. Nurses caring for patients with cancer should be aware of the risk of making systematic misjudgements of patients' status. Increased attention to patients' internal resources may improve nurses' ability to make correct assessments and plan for individualized care.
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