Objective: To describe mental health status and its
correlates among clients of three palliative care programs targeting
Methods: Mental Health Inventory (MHI-5) scores of clients
from programs in Alabama (n = 39), Baltimore (n = 57),
and New York City (n = 84) were compared.
Results: Mean MHI-5 scores did not differ among sites and
were indicative of poor mental health. Significant differences were noted
among sites with regard to client sociodemographics, physical functioning,
and perceptions of interpersonal relations. Results of multivariate
regression models estimated for each site suggest variation in the
relative importance of potential predictors among sites. Whereas poorer
mental health was primarily associated with history of drug dependence at
Baltimore and more physical symptomatology at New York, better mental
health was most strongly correlated with more positive perceptions of
interpersonal relationships at Baltimore and increasing age and more
positive perceptions of meaning and purpose in life at New York.
Significance of results: The data presented suggest the
importance of assessing clients' history of and current need for
mental health services. Evidence of a relationship between positive
perceptions of meaning and purpose and better psychological function
underscores the importance of existential issues for the overall
well-being of those who are seriously ill.