The Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorder and the Wish to Hasten Death Among Terminally Ill Cancer Patients

Brian J. Kelly, Dan Pelusi, Paul Burnett, Francis T. Varghese

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    18 Citations (Scopus)
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    Abstract

    Objective: This study assessed the prevalence of psychiatric disorder among a group of terminally ill cancer patients with or without a wish to hasten death (WTHD). Methods: Consecutive patient referrals to a hospice inpatient unit, home palliative care service, and hospital palliative care-consulting service were recruited. A group of these patients (n = 56) consented to participate in a structured clinical interview (SCID) to identify the presence of psychiatric diagnoses. Patients were categorised into those with or without a wish to hasten death. Results: Current major depressive episode and adjustment disorder were the most prevalent disorders in this group of patients. Patients with a high WTHD were significantly more likely to have a current major depressive episode compared to patients with no WTHD. Patients with a high WTHD were also significantly more likely to have a past major depressive episode compared to patients with no WTHD. Significance of results: These results support the view that terminally ill patients with a high WTHD are significantly more likely to be suffering from a depressive disorder as assessed by a structured clinical interview. This has important clinical implications for those caring for dying patients who may make a request to hasten death.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-7
    Number of pages7
    JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
    Volume2
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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