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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 47

of 'Psychosocial issues in advanced illness'

Prognostic acceptance and the well-being of patients receiving palliative care for cancer.
Thompson GN, Chochinov HM, Wilson KG, McPherson CJ, Chary S, O'Shea FM, Kuhl DR, Fainsinger RL, Gagnon PR, Macmillan KA
J Clin Oncol. 2009;27(34):5757.
PURPOSE: To identify the impact of prognostic acceptance/nonacceptance on the physical, psychological, and existential well-being of patients with advanced cancer.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: A Canadian multicenter prospective national survey was conducted of patients diagnosed with advanced cancer with an estimated survival duration of 6 months or less (n = 381) receiving palliative care services.
RESULTS: Of the total number of participants, 74% reported accepting their situation and 8.6% reported accepting with "moderate" to "extreme" difficulty. More participants with acceptance difficulties than without acceptance difficulties met diagnostic criteria for a depressive or anxiety disorder (chi(2) = 8.67; P<.01). Nonacceptors were younger (t = 4.13; P<.000), had more than high school education (chi(2) = 4.69; P<.05), and had smaller social networks (t = 2.53; P<.05) than Acceptors. Of the Nonacceptors, 42% described their experience as one of "moderate" to "extreme" suffering compared with 24.1% of Acceptors (chi(2) = 5.28; P<.05). More than one third (37.5%) of Nonacceptors reported feeling hopeless compared with 8.6% who had no difficulty accepting (chi(2) = 24.76; P<.000). Qualitatively, participants described active and passive coping strategies that helped them accept what was happening to them, as well as barriers that made it difficult to come to terms with their current situation.
CONCLUSION: The challenge of coming to terms with a terminal prognosis is a complex interplay between one's basic personality, the availability of social support, and one's spiritual and existential views on life. Nonacceptance appears to be highly associated with feelings of hopelessness, a sense of suffering, depression, and anxiety, along with difficulties in terms of social-relational concerns.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba and Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.