The authors examined the impact of a widower's preparedness before his wife's death from cancer on his risk of long-term morbidity. In a population-based study, 691 (76%) of 907 Swedish men who lost a wife to breast, ovarian, or colon cancer in 2000 or 2001 answered an anonymous questionnaire in 2004 or 2005 measuring preparedness at the time of the wife's death and psychological well-being at follow-up. Men aged 38-61 years with a low degree of preparedness at the time of their spouse's death had increased risk of psychological morbidity and other symptoms, such as anxiety (adjusted relative risk (aRR) = 2.1, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0, 4.3), a heightened startle response (aRR = 5.3, 95% CI: 1.2, 23.6), emotional numbness (aRR = 2.1, 95% CI: 1.2, 3.6), little or no grief resolution (aRR = 2.7, 95% CI: 1.3, 5.4), and sleep disorders (aRR = 2.3, 95% CI: 1.2, 4.3), 4-5 years after the loss. For older widowers (aged 62-80 years), a low degree of preparedness increased the risk of having repeated painful memories (aRR = 2.8, 95% CI: 1.5, 5.2) and a heightened startle response (aRR = 5.7, 95% CI: 1.5, 21.4) at follow-up. These results show that to improve the long-term psychological well-being of widowers, it may be fruitful to identify care-related facilitators and inhibitors of preparedness.
"A Swedish study that examined widowers’ preparedness before their wives’ deaths from cancer and how it affected their risk of long-term morbidity found that lower preparedness increased emotional numbness, grief resolution, and sleep disorders 4–5 years after the deaths of the participants’ wives . Another Swedish study found that wives’ awareness time concerning their husbands’ impending death from cancer was influenced by information and psychological support from caregivers. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: According to common practice based on a generally agreed interpretation of Icelandic law on the rights of patients, health care professionals cannot discuss prognosis and treatment with a patient's family without that patient's consent. This limitation poses ethical problems, because research has shown that, in the absence of insight and communication regarding a patient's impending death, patient's significant others may subsequently experience long-term psychological distress. It is also reportedly important for most dying patients to know that health care personnel are comfortable with talking about death and dying. There is only very limited information concerning gender differences regarding death talk in terminal care patients.
This is a retrospective analysis of detailed prospective "field notes" from chaplain interviews of all patients aged 30-75 years receiving palliative care and/or with DNR (do not resuscitate) written on their charts who requested an interview with a hospital chaplain during a period of 3 years. After all study patients had died, these notes were analyzed to assess the prevalence of patient-initiated discussions regarding their own impending death and whether non-provocative evocation-type interventions had facilitated such communication.
During the 3-year study period, 195 interviews (114 men, 81 women) were conducted. According to the field notes, 80% of women and 30% of men initiated death talk within the planned 30-minute interviews. After evoking interventions, 59% (67/114) of men and 91% (74/81) of women engaged in death talk. Even with these interventions, at the end of the first interview gender differences were still statistically significant (p = 0.001). By the end of the second interview gender difference was less, but still statistically significant (p = 0.001).
Gender differences in terminal care communication may be radically reduced by using simple evocation methods that are relatively unpretentious, but require considerable clinical training.Men in terminal care are more reluctant than women to enter into discussion regarding their own impending death in clinical settings. Intervention based on non-provocative evocation methods may increase death talk in both genders, the relative increase being higher for men.
BMC Palliative Care 03/2014; 13(1):8. DOI:10.1186/1472-684X-13-8 · 1.78 Impact Factor
"Undergoing aggressive therapies in the last days and weeks of life may reduce the patient’s ability and opportunities to engage in these activities, which take time and may be both physically and psychologically taxing.59 Understanding prognosis has implications for carers also, with evidence of preparedness for the death of a loved one decreasing long-term anxiety rates and facilitating grief resolution.60,61 "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Communicating effectively with patients who have advanced cancer is one of the greatest challenges facing physicians today. Whilst guiding the patient through complex diagnostic and staging techniques, treatment regimens and trials, the physician must translate often imprecise or conflicting data into meaningful personalized information that empowers the patient to make decisions about their life and body. This requires understanding, compassion, patience, and skill. This narrative literature review explores current communication practices, information preferences of oncology patients and their families, and communication strategies that may assist in these delicate interactions. Overwhelmingly, the literature suggests that whilst the majority of patients with advanced cancer do want to know their diagnosis and receive detailed prognostic information, this varies not only between individuals but also for a given individual over time. Barriers to the delivery and understanding of information exist on both sides of the physician-patient relationship, and family dynamics are also influential. Despite identifiable trends, the information preferences of a particular patient cannot be reliably predicted by demographic, cultural, or cancer-specific factors. Therefore, our primary recommendation is that the physician regularly asks the patient what information they would like to know, who else should be given the information and be involved in decision making, and how that information should be presented.
Cancer Management and Research 05/2011; 3(1):191-9. DOI:10.2147/CMR.S12998
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