Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Sense of Dignity Drives Will to Live among Terminally Ill Patients

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Sense of Dignity Drives Will to Live among Terminally Ill Patients

Article excerpt

Existential issues were significantly correlated with the will to live in a study of 189 end-stage cancer patients.

Harvey Max Chochinov, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba (Canada), and his colleagues examined the simultaneous influences of existential, psychiatric, and physical issues on the will to live in terminally ill patients (Psychosomatics 2005;46:7-10).

In a multiple regression analysis, each of the existential issues assessed--hopelessness, sense of dignity, and being a burden to others--was significantly correlated with the will to live.

In addition, psychiatric issues such as depression, anxiety, and concentration were significantly associated with the will to live. Social variables--including support from family friends and health care providers, and patient satisfaction with this support--also were significantly correlated with the will to live.

Physical issues, particularly dyspnea, appetite, and appearance, were significantly correlated as well, but to a lesser degree than were existential, psychiatric, and social issues.

The patients, who were recruited from two Canadian palliative care facilities, shared information about their end-of-life experiences, which were rated on a symptom distress scale developed for cancer patients and an index of independence in activities of daily living. …

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