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The aim of this study was to clarify, using a nationwide survey, what is perceived as necessary knowledge and skills for psychologists involved in cancer palliative care in Japan, the expectations of medical staff members, and the degree to which these expectations are met.
We conducted a questionnaire survey of psychologists involved in cancer palliative care. A total of 419 psychologists from 403 facilities were asked to fill out the questionnaire and return it anonymously. Some 401 psychologists (89 males, 310 females, and 2 unspecified; mean age, 37.2 ± 9.5 years) responded about necessary knowledge and skills for psychologists working in cancer palliative care, the necessity for training, expectations at their current workplace, and the degree to which expectations are met.
More than 90% of participants responded that many kinds of knowledge and skills related to the field of cancer palliative care are necessary. Over 80% of participants indicated a necessity for training related to these knowledge and skills. Although more than 50% (range, 50.1–85.8%) of participants responded that such services as “cooperation with medical staff within a hospital,” “handling patients for whom psychological support would be beneficial,” and “assessment of patients' mental state” were expected at their workplace, fewer than 60% (31.4–56.9%) responded that they actually performed these roles.
Significance of Results:
Our results show that many psychologists in cancer palliative care feel unable to respond to the expectations at their current workplace and that they require more adequate knowledge and skills related to cancer palliative care to work effectively. No other nationwide surveys have generated this type of information in Japan, so we believe that the results of our study are uniquely important.
We previously reported that the nurse-assisted screening and psychiatric referral program (NASPRP) facilitated the psychiatric treatment of depressive patients, but the high refusal rate was a problem even though referral was recommended by the nurse to all positively screened patients. We modified the program so that the nurses could judge the final eligibility of referral using the result of the screening. This study assessed if the modified NASPRP led to more psychiatric referral of depressive patients.
We retrospectively evaluated the annual change of the psychiatric referral proportion and compared the findings among the usual care term, the NASPRP term, and the modified NASPRP terms.
The referral proportions of the modified NASPRP terms were 4.4% and 3.9%. These were not significantly higher than the usual care term (2.5%), and significantly lower than the NASPRP term (11.5%).
Significant of results:
The modified NASPRP did not facilitate psychiatric treatment of depressive patients and another approach is needed.
Objective: Although depression is a prevalent and burdensome
psychiatric problem in end-of-life cancer patients, little is known about
its susceptibility to treatment, especially when patients reach very close
to the end of life. This study was conducted to evaluate response rate of
that end-of-life depression to psychiatric intervention and to assess the
feasibility of conventional evidence-based pharmacological therapy for
Methods: The medical records of 20 patients who were referred
to the psychiatry division for major depressive disorder and died within 3
months after the referral were reviewed. The Clinical Global
Impression–Improvement (CGI-I) Scale was used for each case, and
responders were defined as patients whose scores were much or very much
improved. All pharmacological treatments were extracted, and the doses of
the antidepressant prescribed were compared to their
evidence-based-defined therapeutic doses.
Results: Of the 20 patients, seven were responders, but no
response was achieved when the survival time was less than 3 weeks. Most
patients were treated with antidepressants, but the doses prescribed were
far less than the defined doses, especially the doses of the tricyclic
Significance of results: These results suggested that
patients' survival time largely determines susceptibility to
psychiatric treatment, and it is hard to achieve response in patients
whose survival time was less than about 1 month. Implementation of
conventional evidence-based pharmacological treatment is difficult,
especially with TCAs, and various antidepressants, which can be
administrated by other routes, are needed when oral intake is
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