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There is no widely used prognostic model for delirium in patients with advanced cancer. The present study aimed to develop a decision tree prediction model for a short-term outcome.
This is a secondary analysis of a multicenter and prospective observational study conducted at 9 psycho-oncology consultation services and 14 inpatient palliative care units in Japan. We used records of patients with advanced cancer receiving pharmacological interventions with a baseline Delirium Rating Scale Revised-98 (DRS-R98) severity score of ≥10. A DRS-R98 severity score of <10 on day 3 was defined as the study outcome. The dataset was randomly split into the training and test dataset. A decision tree model was developed using the training dataset and potential predictors. The area under the curve (AUC) of the receiver operating characteristic curve was measured both in 5-fold cross-validation and in the independent test dataset. Finally, the model was visualized using the whole dataset.
Altogether, 668 records were included, of which 141 had a DRS-R98 severity score of <10 on day 3. The model achieved an average AUC of 0.698 in 5-fold cross-validation and 0.718 (95% confidence interval, 0.627–0.810) in the test dataset. The baseline DRS-R98 severity score (cutoff of 15), hypoxia, and dehydration were the important predictors, in this order.
Significance of results
We developed an easy-to-use prediction model for the short-term outcome of delirium in patients with advanced cancer receiving pharmacological interventions. The baseline severity of delirium and precipitating factors of delirium were important for prediction.
There is no tool to appropriately assess terminal delirium, including the natural terminal course. The objective of this study was to develop an evaluation scale to assess distress from irreversible terminal delirium and to examine the validity of the scale.
Based on previous qualitative analysis and systematic literature searches, we carried out a survey regarding the views of bereaved families and developed a questionnaire. We extracted items that bereaved families regarded as important and constructed an evaluation scale of terminal delirium. Then, we applied the questionnaire in a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of bereaved relatives of cancer patients who were admitted to a hospice or a palliative care unit.
We developed the Terminal Delirium-Related Distress Scale (TDDS), a 24 item questionnaire consisting of five subscales (support for families and respect for a patient, ability to communicate, hallucinations and delusions, adequate information about the treatment of delirium, and agitation and restlessness). Two hundred and eighty-one bereaved relatives participated in the validation phase. The construct validity was shown to be good by repeated factor analysis. Convergent validity, confirmed by the correlation between the TDDS and the Care Evaluation Scale (r = 0.651, P < 0.001), was also good. The TDDS had good internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha coefficient for all 24 items = 0.84).
Significance of results
This study showed that the TDDS is a valid and feasible measure of irreversible terminal delirium.
Thiamine deficiency (TD) is recognized in various kinds of disease with associated loss of appetite including cancer; however, TD has not been recognized in the family caregivers of cancer patients to date.
From a series of cancer patient caregivers, we reported an aged family caregiver who developed TD while caring for the cancer patient.
The caregiver was a 90-year-old male. He had been accompanying his wife, who was diagnosed with colon cancer 4 years previously, on hospital visits as the primary caregiver, but because of psychological issues, he was recommended to visit the psycho-oncology department's “caregiver's clinic” for a consultation. Detailed examination revealed that his appetite had been only about 50% of usual from about one year before, and he had lost 12 kg in weight in one year. The diagnosis of TD was supported by his abnormally low serum thiamine level.
Significance of the results
This report demonstrates that there is a possibility that care providers could develop TD from the burdens associated with caregiving. TD should be considered whenever there is a loss of appetite lasting for more than 2 weeks, and medical staff should pay careful attention to the physical condition of care providers to prevent complications resulting from TD.
This study explores the views of healthcare professionals regarding care and treatment goals in irreversible terminal delirium and their effect on patients and caregivers.
We conducted a qualitative interview study of healthcare professionals (palliative care physician, oncologist, psycho-oncologist, and clinical psychologist) engaged in the treatment of terminally ill cancer patients. We assessed the views of healthcare workers regarding treatment goals in terminal delirium and their effect on patients and their families.
Of the 21 eligible healthcare professionals, 20 agreed to participate in this study. Three of the professionals had experience with treating terminal delirium as family caregivers. We identified five important aspects of treatment goals in terminal delirium based on the views of healthcare professionals: (1) adequate management of symptoms/distress, (2) ability to communicate, (3) continuity of self, (4) provision of care and support to families, and (5) considering a balance (between symptom alleviation and maintaining communication; between symptom alleviation and family preparations for the death of patients; balance between specific treatment goals for delirium and general treatment goals).
Significance of results
According to the views of healthcare workers questioned in this study, goals of care and treatment in terminal delirium are multidimensional and extend beyond simply controlling patient symptoms.
Although thiamine deficiency (TD) and Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) are not rare in cancer patients, the cases reported to date developed TD and/or WE after treatment had started.
From a series of cancer patients, we report a patient diagnosed with TD without the typical clinical symptoms of WE at the preoperative psychiatric examination.
A 43-year-old woman with ovarian cancer was referred by her oncologist to the psycho-oncology outpatient clinic for preoperative psychiatric evaluation. Her tumor had been growing rapidly before the referral. Although she did not develop delirium, cerebellar signs, or eye symptoms, we suspected she might have developed TD because of her 2-month loss of appetite as the storage capacity of thiamine in the body is approximately 18 days. The diagnosis of TD was supported by abnormally low serum thiamine levels.
Significance of results
Cancer therapists need to be aware that thiamine deficiency may occur even before the start of cancer treatment. In cases with a loss of appetite of more than 2 weeks’ duration, in particular, thiamine deficiency should be considered if the tumor is rapidly increasing, regardless of the presence or absence of delirium.
Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) is a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by thiamine deficiency. It is recognized in various stages of the cancer trajectory but has not previously been recognized during nivolumab treatment.
From a series of WE patients with cancer, we report a lung cancer patient who developed WE during treatment with nivolumab.
A 78-year-old woman with lung cancer was referred to our psycho-oncology clinic because of depressed mood. Psychiatric examination revealed disorientation to time, date, and place, which had not been recognized 1 month previously. Her symptoms fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for delirium. No laboratory findings or drugs explaining her delirium were identified. WE was suspected as she experienced a loss of appetite lasting 4 weeks. This diagnosis was supported by abnormal serum thiamine and the disappearance of delirium after intravenous thiamine administration.
Significance of results
We found WE in an advanced lung cancer patient receiving treatment with nivolumab. Further study revealed the association between nivolumab and thiamine deficiency. Oncologists should consider thiamine deficiency when a patient experiences a loss of appetite of more than 2 weeks regardless of the presence or absence of delirium.
Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) is a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by thiamine deficiency, and is sometimes overlooked because of the diversity of clinical symptoms.
From a series of WE patients with cancer, we report a lung cancer patient who developed WE, the main symptom of which was agitation.
A 50-year-old woman with lung cancer was referred to our psycho-oncology clinic because of agitation lasting for three days. No laboratory findings or drugs explaining her agitation were identified. Although the patient did not develop delirium, ophthalmoplegia, or ataxia, WE was suspected because she experienced a loss of appetite loss lasting 5 weeks. This diagnosis was supported by abnormal serum thiamine and disappearance of agitation one hour after intravenous thiamine administration.
Significance of results
This report emphasizes the clinical diversity of WE and indicates the limits of the ability to diagnose WE from typical clinical symptoms. The presence of a loss of appetite for more than two weeks may be the key to the accurate diagnosis of WE.
Wernicke's encephalopathy (WE) is a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by a thiamine deficiency. Although WE has been recognized in cancer patients, it can be overlooked because many patients do not exhibit symptoms that are typical of WE, such as delirium, ataxia, or ocular palsy. Furthermore, outpatients with WE who intermittently present at psycho-oncology clinics have not been described as far as we can ascertain.
This report describes two patients who did not exhibit the complete classic triad of symptoms among a series with cancer and WE, and who attended a psycho-oncology outpatient clinic.
Case 1, a 76-year-old woman with pancreatic cancer and liver metastasis, periodically attended a psycho-oncology outpatient clinic. She presented with delirium and ataxia as well as appetite loss that had persisted for 8 weeks. We suspected WE, which was confirmed by low serum thiamine levels and the disappearance of delirium after thiamine administration. Case 2, a 79-year-old man with advanced stomach cancer, was referred to a psycho-oncology outpatient clinic with depression that had persisted for about 1 month. He also had appetite loss that had persisted for several weeks. He became delirious during the first visit to the outpatient clinic. Our initial suspicion of WE was confirmed by low serum thiamine levels and the disappearance of delirium after thiamine administration. The key indicator of a diagnosis of WE in both patients was appetite loss.
Significance of results
This report emphasizes awareness of WE in the outpatient setting, even when patients do not exhibit the classical triad of WE. Appetite loss might be the key to a diagnosis of WE in the absence of other causes of delirium.
Thiamine is an essential coenzyme for oxidative metabolisms; however, it is not synthesized in the human body, and the average thiamine storage capacity is approximately 18 days. Therefore, thiamine deficiency (TD) can occur in any condition of unbalanced nutrition. If TD is left untreated, it causes the neuropsychiatric disorder Wernicke encephalopathy (WE). Although WE is a medical emergency, it is sometimes overlooked because most patients with WE do not exhibit all of the typical symptoms, including delirium, ataxia, and ophthalmoplegia. If all of the typical clinical symptoms of WE are absent, diagnosis of TD or WE becomes more difficult.
From a series of cancer patients, we reported three patients who developed TD without the typical clinical symptoms of WE.
A 69-year-old woman with pancreatic body cancer receiving chemotherapy with paclitaxel and gemcitabine for six months. Her performance status (PS) was 1. A detailed interview revealed that she had appetite loss for six months. Another 69-year-old woman with ovarian cancer received nedaplatin; her PS was 0. A detailed interview revealed that she had appetite loss for three months. A 67-year-old woman with colon cancer receiving ramucirumab in combination with second-line fluorouracil with folinic acid and irinotecan. Her PS was 1. A detailed interview revealed that she had appetite loss for three weeks. None exhibited typical clinical signs of WE, but they developed appetite loss for six months, three months, and three weeks, respectively. The diagnosis of TD was supported by abnormally low serum thiamine levels.
Significance of the results
This report emphasizes the possibility of TD in cancer patients even when patients do not develop typical clinical signs of WE. The presence of appetite loss for more than two weeks may aid in diagnosing TD. Patients receiving chemotherapy may be at greater risk for developing TD.
Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) is a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by thiamine deficiency. Several reports of WE in cancer patients are known. WE is sometimes overlooked because most patients do not exhibit its typical symptoms (e.g., delirium, ataxia, ocular palsy). If delirium is not present, a diagnosis of WE is difficult because delirium is the hallmark symptom of WE.
Taken from a series on WE in cancer, we report two patients who developed WE without delirium during periodic psycho-oncology outpatient visits.
Case 1. A 61-year-old woman with non-Hodgkin lymphoma who was periodically attending a psycho-oncology outpatient clinic developed an unsteady gait. WE was suspected because she also developed appetite loss for two weeks, and we could find no other laboratory findings to explain her unsteady gait. Our diagnosis was supported by abnormal serum thiamine and disappearance of the gait disturbance after intravenous thiamine administration. Case 2. A 50-year-old woman with breast carcinoma with bone metastasis developed an unsteady gait. WE was suspected because she also developed loss of appetite for two weeks, and no other laboratory findings could explain her unsteady gait. The diagnosis was supported by abnormal serum thiamine and disappearance of the gait disturbance after administration of intravenous thiamine.
Significance of Results:
Our report emphasizes the importance of being aware of WE, even when patients do not present with delirium. The presence of loss of appetite for more than two weeks may be the key to a diagnosis of WE.
Communication based on patient preferences can alleviate their psychological distress and is an important part of patient-centered care for physicians who have the task of conveying bad news to cancer patients. The present study aimed to explore the demographic, medical, and psychological factors associated with patient preferences with regard to communication of bad news.
Outpatients with a variety of cancers were consecutively invited to participate in our study after their follow-up medical visit. A questionnaire assessed their preferences regarding the communication of bad news, covering four factors—(1) how bad news is delivered, (2) reassurance and emotional support, (3) additional information, and (4) setting—as well as on demographic, medical, and psychosocial factors.
A total of 529 outpatients with a variety of cancers completed the questionnaire. Multiple regression analyses indicated that patients who were younger, female, had greater faith in their physician, and were more highly educated placed more importance on “how bad news is delivered” than patients who were older, male, had less faith in their physician, and a lower level of education. Female patients and patients without an occupation placed more importance on “reassurance and emotional support.” Younger, female, and more highly educated patients placed more importance on “additional information.” Younger, female, and more highly educated patients, along with patients who weren't undergoing active treatment placed more importance on “setting.”
Significance of Results:
Patient preferences with regard to communication of bad news are associated with factors related to patient background. Physicians should consider these characteristics when delivering bad news and use an appropriate communication style tailored to each patient.
Few reports of Wernicke encephalopathy in oncological settings have been published. Some cases of Wernicke encephalopathy are related to appetite loss; however, the degree to which loss of appetite leads to thiamine deficiency is not known.
A 63-year-old female with advanced cancer of the external genitalia was referred for psychiatric consultation because of disorientation, insomnia, and bizarre behaviors. Her symptoms fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for delirium. Routine laboratory examinations did not reveal the cause of the delirium. Thiamine deficiency was suspected because appetite loss had continued for 19 days since she had been admitted to hospital.
Intravenous administration of thiamine resulted in recovery from the delirium within three days. Serum thiamine level was found to be 16 ng/ml (normal range: 24–66 ng/ml). The clinical findings, the low level of thiamine in the serum, and the effective alleviation of delirious symptoms after thiamine administration fulfilled Francis's criteria for delirium induced by thiamine deficiency.
Significance of results:
Clinicians must be aware of the possibility of Wernicke encephalopathy in cancer patients, especially in those with loss of appetite for longer than 18 days. The degree of appetite loss in such patients might serve as a reference. Early detection and intervention may alleviate the symptoms of delirium and prevent irreversible brain damage.
This study investigates the usefulness of the Structured Interview for Competency and Incompetency Assessment Testing and Ranking Inventory (SICIATRI) for cancer patients, which is a structured interview that assesses a patient's competency in clinical practice.
The SICIATRI, originally developed to measure patients' competency to give informed consent, were administered referred cancer patients who needed for assessing medical decision making capacity. The usefulness of the SICIATRI was investigated retrospectively. Recommendation for modification of the SICIATRI for cancer patients if applicable were made by the research team.
Among the 433 cancer patients referred for psychiatric consultation, 12 were administered the SICIATRI and all of the administration were conducted without big problems. All patients were 60 years or older. The most common purpose for competency evaluation was to analyze patients' understanding of the anti-cancer treatment proposed by oncologists, followed by their refusal of the treatment. Half of the patients (n = 6) were diagnosed with delirium and three among them were judged as having the most impaired status of a patient's competency. Two patients (17%) were diagnosed with major depression and another two (17%) were mental retardation and each one patient was diagnosed with dementia and past history of alcohol dependence. Among 6 patients without delirium 5 subjects including a dementia patient were judged as fully competent. Total of 5 small potential modifications of the SICIATRI for its use with Japanese cancer patients were recommended.
Significance of results:
Our experience suggests that the SICIATRI is a useful instrument for psycho-oncology clinical practice.
Although the Short-Term Life Review elevated the spiritual well-being of terminally ill cancer patients in our previous study, we have not examined what patients reviewed for each question item of it. We examined factors in narratives to questions in the Short-Term Life Review interviews of terminally ill cancer patients and utility of the questions.
Thirty-four terminally ill cancer patients received the Short-Term Life Review interview in which there were two sessions. In the first session patients reviewed their lives, and an interviewer made a simple album of the patient based on patients' narrative. After 1 week, there was a second session. Qualitative analysis was conducted on patients' answers to each question using computational word mining, and factors were identified.
Twenty patients' narratives were analyzed. “Human relationships” was identified under “important things in life.” “Pleasant memories” were associated with “impressive memories.” “Illness” and “marriage and divorce” were related to “turning points in the life.” “Raising children and education” and “company or work” were identified as “roles in life.” “Achievements at work” were identified with “pride.” “Message to my children” was identified with “what I want to say to my family.” “To live sincerely” and “consideration for others” were identified as “advice for the next generation.” Patients reviewed few for topics such as “pride,” “what I want to say to my family,” “advice for the next generation,” and “summing up my life.”
Significance of results:
Factors such as human relationships, raising children, and education as a role and source of pride, and concerns about children's future, were associated with elevating spiritual well-being. Question to which that patients easily answered were selected.
Social anxiety disorder is one of the most popular psychiatric disorders in the general population and is also well known as a very common comorbid psychiatric disorder among patients with major depression. On the other hand, social anxiety disorder has been termed “the neglected anxiety disorder” because its diagnosis is often missed. Furthermore, the potential impact of social anxiety disorder on the psychological distress of cancer patients has not been reported.
We encountered two cancer patients with refractory depression after cancer diagnosis, in whom comorbid social anxiety disorder was unexpectedly detected during a subsequent follow-up.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report to discuss the potential impact of social anxiety disorder on cancer patients' distress. These two cases may help to improve our understanding of the complicated mental health problems of cancer patients and the potential influence of social anxiety disorder on patients' follow-up medical treatment.
Significance of results:
Comorbid social anxiety disorder should be considered when a cancer patient's depression is resistant to treatment and the existence of communication problems between the patient and the medical staff is suspected.
The purpose of this study is to identify psychiatric disorders and stress factors experienced by staff members in cancer hospitals who were referred to psychiatric consultation service, and to investigate the association between psychiatric disorders and stress factors.
A retrospective descriptive study using clinical practice data on staff members referred to psychiatric consultation service, obtained for 8 years, was conducted at two National Cancer Center Hospitals in Japan. Psychiatric disorders were identified according to DSM-IV. Stress factors were extracted from a chief complaint at the initial visit in medical charts, using a coding approach, and grouped as job stress or personal stress. The frequencies of the stress factors were determined by two coders who were unaware of the categorized procedure. Fisher's exact test was used to determine the association between psychiatric disorders and stress factors.
Of 8077 psychiatric consultations, 65 (1%) staff members were referred. The most common psychiatric disorder was adjustment disorder (n = 26, 40%), followed by major depression (n = 17, 26%). Eight stress factors were identified from 76 meaning units and were grouped into five job stresses and three personal stresses. Of the five job stresses, four were most frequently experienced in adjustment disorders, and “failure to adapt to job environmental change” was significantly associated (p = 0.014). Two of the three personal stresses were most frequently experienced in psychiatric disorders other than major depressive disorder and adjustment disorders, and “suffering from mental disease” was significantly associated (p = 0.001).
Significance of results:
We found that very few staff members were provided with psychiatric consultation service. A comprehensive support system for job stress might be needed to prevent adjustment disorders, as those are suggested to be the most common psychiatric disorders among staff members in cancer hospitals.
To investigate the association between cancer patients' reluctance for emotional disclosure to their physician and underrecognition of depression by physicians.
Randomly selected ambulatory patients with lung cancer were evaluated by the Hospital Depression and Anxiety Scale (HADS), and those with scores over the validated cutoff value for adjustment disorder or major depressive disorder were included in this analysis. The data set included the responses to the 13-item questionnaire to assess four possible concerns of patients in relation to emotional disclosure to the treating physician (“no perceived need to disclose emotions,” “fear of the negative impact of emotional disclosure,” “negative attitude toward emotional disclosure,” “hesitation to disturb the physician with emotional disclosure”). The attending physicians rated the severity of depression in each patient using 3-point Likert scales (0 [absent] to 2 [clinical]). Depression was considered to be underrecognized when the patients had a HADS score above the cutoff value, but in whom the depression rating by the attending physician was 0.
The HADS score was over the cutoff value in the 60 patients. The mean age was 65.1 ± 10.0, and 82% had advanced cancer (Stage IIIb or IV or recurrence). Depression was underrecognized in 44 (73%) patients. None of the four factors related to reluctance for emotional disclosure was associated with the underrecognition of depression by the physicians. None of the demographic or cancer–related variables were associated with depression underrecognition by physicians.
Significance of results:
The results did not support the assumption that patients' reluctance for emotional disclosure is associated with the underrecognition of depression by physicians.
Psychological distress of cancer patients' family members is treated by psychiatric consultation service for outpatients at National Cancer Center Hospitals in Japan. The purpose of this study was to identify psychiatric disorders and explore background characteristics of cancer patients' family members referred to psychiatric consultation service, so that we could better understand current utilization of this psychiatric consultation service for cancer patients' family members.
A retrospective descriptive study using clinical practice data obtained for 5 years (from January 2000 to December 2004) was conducted at two National Cancer Center Hospitals. We reviewed the psychiatric consultation database, computerized patient database of the National Cancer Center Hospitals, and medical charts of cancer patients' family members who were referred to psychiatry and their cancer patients.
Out of a total of 4992 psychiatric consultations, 118 (2%) were for cancer patients' family members. The most common psychiatric disorders among cancer patients' family members were adjustment disorders (n = 69, 58%), followed by major depression (n = 30, 25%). Female (n = 101, 86%), spouse (n = 87, 74%), married (n = 92, 78%), and housewife (n = 63, 53%) were the most common background characteristics of the family members. Sixty-four percent of cancer patients (n = 75) were hospitalized at the time of their family members' referral and 34% of cancer patients (n = 40) had already received psychiatric consultation service and 55% of cancer patients (n = 65) had delivered bad news prior to their family members' referral.
Significance of the research:
We found that very few family members were provided with psychiatric consultation service at two National Cancer Center Hospitals. Adjustment disorders are suggested to be the most common psychiatric disorders among cancer patients' family members.
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