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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 118

of 'Psychosocial issues in advanced illness'

Psychiatric morbidity in terminally ill cancer patients. A prospective study.
Minagawa H, Uchitomi Y, Yamawaki S, Ishitani K
Cancer. 1996;78(5):1131.
BACKGROUND: In the study by Derogatis et al., which included patients with all stages of cancer, 47% of the patients met the DSM-III criteria for a psychiatric disorder, with adjustment disorders being the most common. Although the cancer stage is one factor that influences the nature and incidence of psychiatric disorders, no study has demonstrated the extensive range of psychiatric disorders in terminally ill cancer patients.
METHODS: Ninety-three terminally ill cancer patients were systematically assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID) within 1 week of admission.
RESULTS: Of this sample population, 53.7% met the DSM-III-R criteria for a psychiatric disorder and 42% had a cognitive impairment. Delirium was observed in 26 patients (28%), dementia in 10 (10.7%), adjustment disorders in 7 (7.5%), amnestic disorder and major depression in 3 (3.2%), and a generalized anxiety disorder in 1 (1.1%).
CONCLUSIONS: This preliminary investigation of the prevalence ofpsychiatric disorders in terminally ill cancer patients showed that more than half of the patients met the criteria for a DSM-III-R psychiatric disorder; delirium was the most common type of psychiatric disturbance. Further prospective trials are critically important to establishing treatment modalities that promote the psychiatric well-being of patients with terminal illnesses.
Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, Hiroshima University School of Medicine, Japan.