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Victims of physical abuse among patients with cancer referred to psychiatric clinic in a cancer center hospital: A pilot study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2005

HIDEKI ONISHI
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Kanagawa Cancer Center, Asahi-ku, Yokohama, Japan
MOTONORI SAIRENJI
Affiliation:
Department of Surgery, Kanagawa Cancer Center, Asahi-ku, Yokohama, Japan
KOSUKE YAMASHITA
Affiliation:
Department of Radiology, Kanagawa Cancer Center, Asahi-ku, Yokohama, Japan
SHIRABE SHIMIZU
Affiliation:
Department of Plastic Surgery, Kanagawa Cancer Center, Asahi-ku, Yokohama, Japan
MASANARI ONOSE
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Japan
YASUHIRO MIZUNO
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Japan
CHIAKI KAWANISHI
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Japan

Abstract

Objective: Physical abuse is one of the most important public health problems, but little is known about physical abuse of cancer patients. The objects of this study are (1) to identify whether cancer patients have sustained physical abuse; (2) to explore clinical characteristics of the abused patients.

Methods: We reviewed 584 cancer patients referred to our psychiatry clinic by a cancer center hospital and investigated whether there were victims of physical abuse among these patients. We also investigated psychiatric characteristics of the abused patients.

Results: Of these 584 patients, three patients were recognized as victims of physical abuse at the time of referral. The perpetrator of physical abuse was their husband (domestic violence) in all three cases. All three patients had sustained physical abuse from their husbands for years before being diagnosed with cancer. In addition to physical abuse, all three patients had sustained emotional abuse (e.g., threat or intimidation) from their husbands. Psychiatric diagnoses of all three patients fulfilled the DSM-IV criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the traumatic event was mainly physical abuse by their husbands.

Significance of results: Oncologists and psychiatrists should pay greater attention to the psychosocial and environmental problems of cancer patients and inquire about the presence of physical abuse in suspected cases. Medical staff should also know that early multidisciplinary interventions in addition to cancer treatments are needed for victims of physical abuse among cancer patients and that these interventions are necessary to improve compliance with treatment and proper decision making.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2005 Cambridge University Press

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