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Spouse caregivers of terminally-ill cancer patients as cancer patients: A pilot study in a palliative care unit

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2005

HIDEKI ONISHI
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Kanagawa Cancer Center, 1-1-2 Nakao, Asahi-ku, Yokohama 241-0815, Japan
MASANARI ONOSE
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine
SHIGEKO OKUNO
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Kanagawa Cancer Center, 1-1-2 Nakao, Asahi-ku, Yokohama 241-0815, Japan
SUZU YAE
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Kanagawa Cancer Center, 1-1-2 Nakao, Asahi-ku, Yokohama 241-0815, Japan
YASUHIRO MIZUNO
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine
MIZUHO ITO
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine
HIDEYUKI SAITO
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine
CHIAKI KAWANISHI
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine

Abstract

Objective: It is known that families of terminally-ill cancer patients show levels of emotional and functional disruption and are called “second order patients,” however, little is actually known about the health problems of family members, especially in terms of cancer.

Methods: This study reviewed the family histories of terminally-ill cancer patients in a palliative care unit and investigated cancer related health problems of the spouses of terminally-ill cancer patients.

Results: We investigated the past medical history of 125 spouses of terminally-ill cancer patients and found that five spouses had a past medical history of cancer. In these five spouses, the duration of illness, present status of treatment and physical condition were reviewed from the database. Of these five spouses, three patients continued to attend an outpatient clinic regularly for checkup and one patient was hospitalized for nephrectomy. Two spouses did not have physical symptoms that made them unable to provide direct care for the terminally-ill spouses, while three could not provide care because of their own physical symptoms derived from cancer.

Significance of results: Our findings indicated that some of the spouses of terminally-ill cancer patients are not only “second order patients” but also “cancer patients.” Our findings also suggest that some spouses of terminally-ill cancer patients might experience distress both as a cancer patient and as a spouse and may need care both as a cancer patient and as a spouse.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2005 Cambridge University Press

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