The adaptability of the distress thermometer (DT) to multicultural groups has rarely been assessed.
To assess DT adaptability to the Israeli population as a multicultural society.
Participants were 496 cancer patients. They were recruited for 3 days a week in 2009–2010 (97% response rate). Participants completed the DT, a problem list, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI-18).
Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses of DT scores yielded area under the curve (AUC) of 0.63 as against HADS and of 0.78 as against BSI-18. ROC analysis revealed that the optimal cutoff score was ≥3. It yielded sensitivity and specificity of 0.74 and 0.65, as against the HADS, and 0.64 and 0.64, as against the BSI-18. The Jewish participants reported higher distress than the Arab participants, and the ROC properties were markedly higher for the Jewish subgroup alone.
The adapted DT was moderately efficient for detecting emotional distress in cancer patients in Israel. Cultural aspects related to distress should be taken into account for administration of the DT in multicultural societies.