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Indian J Palliat Care. 2019 Oct-Dec;25(4):487-493. doi: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_113_19.

The Psychosocial and Spiritual Experiences of Patients with Advanced Incurable Illness in Bangladesh: A Cross-Sectional Observational Study.

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Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa and Roger Neilson House, Ottawa, Canada.
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Canada.
Roger Neilson House, Ottawa, Canada.
Department of Palliative Medicine, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.
Fasiuddin Khan Research Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh.



The psychosocial and spiritual needs of individuals with life-limiting conditions in low- or middle-income countries have not been well described. Understanding these needs is important to providing holistic palliative care.


This study aims to better understand the psychosocial and spiritual needs and supports of patients with advanced, incurable illness in Bangladesh.

Subjects and Methods:

Individuals with advanced incurable illnesses (advanced cancer and HIV/AIDS) from a wide geographical distribution across Bangladesh were interviewed about their health status, emotional and spiritual experiences with their illness, coping and support systems, and greatest needs and fears.


We interviewed 221 individuals with incurable cancer (82%) or HIV/AIDS (18%). Self-reported health status was poor or very poor for 48%, and 44% reported feeling unhappy all of the time. The majority (61%) rated their current level of unhappiness as 10/10. Spouses (50%), children (15%), and parents (13%) were the most common caregivers. Money and medical care were equally the most common needs (46%). Participants' greatest fears were for the future of their children (38%), being in pain (29%), and dying (28%).


There is a significant burden of psychosocial and spiritual concerns among patients with advanced incurable illness in Bangladesh, with sadness being very frequent and of high intensity. Family and friends provide significant emotional and practical support to patients who are seriously ill, but very few patients access any professional support for these concerns.


Advanced cancer; HIV/AIDS; communication; developing countries; palliative care; psychosocial issues; spiritual issues

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