A study looking at a way of helping to reduce distress during cancer treatment - Distress Thermometer Intervention Trial (DiTIT)

Cancer type:

All cancer types





This trial looked at using a distress thermometer (DT) to assess people having treatment for cancer.

People having cancer treatment can have physical, emotional or practical problems such as tiredness, general worry or financial problems. These can all cause distress. But it can be difficult for health care professionals to know how much distress these things cause and how they can help people to cope.

The aim of this study was to see if using the distress thermometer helps identify and reduce distress in people having cancer treatment.

Summary of results

The research team found that using the distress thermometer didn’t help reduce the distress of people having treatment for cancer.

The research team used the distress thermometer and problem list (DT & PL) method to assess people taking part. The thermometer is a way of finding out how distressed people are on a scale of 1 to 10. The problem list is then used to identify specific problems. The results can be used to provide information, reassurance, recommendations or referrals for further help.

This trial recruited over 200 people having treatment for cancer. 109 were assessed using the DT & PL method. And 107 had usual care, without being assessed.

Everyone taking part did a questionnaire over the phone to assess their mood at 1 month, 6 months and 12 months after they joined the trial. When the research team analysed the results, they found that there was no difference between the 2 groups. The people who had been assessed using DT & PL did not have a better mood score than those who hadn’t been assessed.

The research team concluded that while it was important to assess the needs of people having treatment for cancer, they couldn’t recommend the DT & PL method as a way to do it.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr William Hollingworth

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

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