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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 18

of 'Communication of prognosis in palliative care'

Prognostic awareness and the terminally ill.
Chochinov HM, Tataryn DJ, Wilson KG, Ennis M, Lander S
Psychosomatics. 2000;41(6):500.
The authors rated patients who were in advanced stages of cancer and in their final few weeks of life on their level of awareness of their medical prognosis (N = 200, mean age = 71.0 years). The authors measured prognostic awareness with a semistructured interview, dividing patients into those acknowledging No Awareness, Partial Awareness, and Complete Awareness. The authors also administered a semistructured interview for depressive disorders, along with an assessment of various demographic and social support measures. Nineteen patients (9.5%) denied awareness of both their terminal prognosis and foreshortened life expectancy. Thirty-four patients (17%) were placed in the partial awareness category, with the remaining 147 patients (73.5%) reporting complete awareness. Depression was nearly three times greater among patients who did not acknowledge their prognosis, as compared with those who demonstrated partial or complete acknowledgment (chi2 = 7.094), P = 0.029). In addition to depression, male patients, older patients, and those having "intense social contact" were associated with lower ratings of prognostic awareness. Dying patients differ in respect to their capacity to acknowledge their prognosis. Prognostic disavowal is most likely to arise in patients with underlying psychological distress and emotional turmoil.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.