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Palliat Med. 2006 Dec;20(8):779-89.

Measurement of psychological distress in palliative care.

Author information

1
Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, University of Newcastle, Orange, NSW, Australia. brian.kelly@newcastle.edu.au

Abstract

Research investigating the psychological distress of palliative care patients has contributed to our understanding of the needs and experiences of individuals approaching death. This paper aims to provide a brief review of such measurement of psychological distress in palliative care, focusing on established psychiatric and psychological research tools, and quantitative research methods. This includes clinical screening and diagnostic assessment instruments used to identify key distress-related symptoms and the presence of common clinical syndromes, such as depression, anxiety, delirium, as well as the broader psychological dimensions of suffering, such as existential concerns, spirituality, hope and demoralisation. There are important considerations in undertaking psychological research in palliative care, such as maintaining a balance between the methods and measurements that will address key research questions, and sensitivity to the range of physical and emotional demands facing individuals at the point of receiving palliative care. The clinical application of psychological and psychiatric research tools and methods can aid the detection of psychological distress, aid the thorough assessment of the psychological dimension of the patients' illness and care, aid the identification of individuals who would benefit from specific psychotherapeutic or pharmacologic interventions, and the evaluation of response to treatments.

PMID:
17148532
DOI:
10.1177/0269216306072347
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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