PURPOSE Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) is an intensive treatment associated with distressing treatment and disease-related symptoms that affect patient outcomes such as functional status and quality of life. Self-efficacy for symptom management (SESM) is a person's belief in their ability to perform behaviors to prevent and relieve symptoms. Presence of SESM can impact symptom distress and functional status. This
study describes the changes over time and relationships among SESM, symptom distress, and physical functional status in adults during the acute phase of HSCT. METHODS Patients (n=40) completed measures of symptom distress, SESM, and physical function at time points prior to and at days 7, 15 and 30 post-transplant. Clinical outcomes were length of stay and number of readmissions. RESULTS Symptom distress, physical function, and SESM changed significantly over time. There was a significant negative relationship between symptom distress and physical function and between symptom distress and SESM at all points. The lowest levels of SESM and physical function were at day 7 when symptom distress was highest. Symptom distress was a moderator for the relationship between physical function and SESM at day 15. CONCLUSION This was the first study to examine SESM in the acute phase of HSCT. Higher SESM was associated with fewer symptoms and increased physical function. Less symptom distress was associated with higher physical function and confidence to manage symptoms. These findings provide the basis for development of patient-centered interventions to enhance SESM when symptoms are at their highest immediately after HSCT.