Elaheh Kalantari, Samaneh Kouchaki, Christine Miaskowski, Kord M. Kober, Payam Barnaghi (2022)Network analysis to identify symptoms clusters and temporal interconnections in oncology patients, In: Scientific Reports12(1)17052 Nature Research

Oncology patients experience numerous co-occurring symptoms during their treatment. The identification of sentinel/core symptoms is a vital prerequisite for therapeutic interventions. In this study, using Network Analysis, we investigated the inter-relationships among 38 common symptoms over time (i.e., a total of six time points over two cycles of chemotherapy) in 987 oncology patients with four different types of cancer (i.e., breast, gastrointestinal, gynaecological, and lung). In addition, we evaluated the associations between and among symptoms and symptoms clusters and examined the strength of these interactions over time. Eight unique symptom clusters were identified within the networks. Findings from this research suggest that changes occur in the relationships and interconnections between and among co-occurring symptoms and symptoms clusters that depend on the time point in the chemotherapy cycle and the type of cancer. The evaluation of the centrality measures provides new insights into the relative importance of individual symptoms within various networks that can be considered as potential targets for symptom management interventions.