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Palliat Support Care. 2004 Jun;2(2):163-9.

The prevalence of psychiatric disorder and the wish to hasten death among terminally ill cancer patients.

Author information

  • 1Center for Rural & Remote Mental Health, University of Newcastle, Orange, Australia. bjk2336@ozemail.com

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.

PMID:
16594246
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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