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Our aim was to evaluate the frequency and treatment of psychiatric symptoms in patients at palliative care units (PCUs).
Patients admitted to one of five participating PCUs in Austria were included. The short version of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ–D) was used to evaluate their mental health status. Pain intensity was rated on a numeric rating scale (NRS) from 0 to 10 by patients and physicians. Patients with a previously diagnosed psychiatric disorder were compared to those without or with newly diagnosed psychiatric symptoms, based on PHQ–D results. Pain and psychopharmacological medication were assessed. Opioid doses were converted into oral morphine equivalents (OMEs).
Some 68 patients were included. Previously undetected psychiatric symptoms were identified in 38% (26 of 68), preexisting psychiatric comorbidities were evident in 25% (17), and no psychiatric symptoms were observed in 37% (25). Patients with a preexisting psychiatric comorbidity received antidepressants and benzodiazepines significantly more often than patients without or with previously undetected psychiatric symptoms (p < 0.001). Patient and physician median NRS ratings of pain intensity correlated significantly (p = 0.001). Median NRS rating showed no significant difference between patients with preexisting, previously undetected, or without psychiatric symptoms. OMEs did not differ significantly between preexisting, without, or previously undetected psychiatric symptoms. Patients with undetected and preexisting psychiatric comorbidities had a greater impairment in their activities of daily living than patients without psychiatric symptoms (p = 0.003).
Significance of Results:
Undetected psychiatric comorbidities are common in patients receiving palliative care. Screening for psychiatric symptoms should be integrated into standard palliative care to optimize treatment and reduce the psychosocial burden of the disease.
Caregivers of cancer patients are faced with significant demands that can seriously impact their physical and mental health. It is important for healthcare professionals to be aware of caregivers' support needs in order for these to be adequately addressed. Our study develops a German version of the Family Inventory of Needs (FIN) and provides a comprehensive evaluation of its acceptability and psychometric properties.
Cross-sectional data from 308 participants were taken from the baseline assessment of an ongoing prospective study. Retests were completed by 46 participants approximately one week after baseline. Informal caregivers of terminally ill cancer patients were recruited from three hospitals in Vienna. Questionnaires for hope (IHS), traumatic stress (IES–R), and depression and anxiety (HADS) were employed together with the translated FIN to assess concurrent and discriminant validity.
The internal consistency of FIN–Importance had a Cronbach's α of 0.94, and that for FIN–Fulfillment was α = 0.96. Retest reliability for FIN–Importance was r = 0.97, while that for FIN–Fulfillment could not be calculated due to missing responses to this subscale. Concurrent and discriminant validity tests for the scale and the discriminative power of items were adequate. However, missing responses may limit the feasibility of using this scale in research settings. We identified six questions that could be excluded from the scale in order to increase its acceptability and further improve its psychometric properties.
Significance of results:
Our results suggest that the FIN is suitable for clinical settings. For use in research, we suggest four adaptations to increase the scale's acceptability and psychometric properties. The FIN can be a valuable tool for informing the emotional, physical, and psychological support provided to family carers of people who are terminally ill with cancer.
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