Psychological interventions in palliative care

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Purpose of reviewTo provide an update on recent studies about psychological interventions in palliative (mainly cancer) care with a focus on physical, psychological, spiritual, and social aspects.Recent findingsSome promising psychological interventions for physical challenges, such as fatigue, pain, dyspnea, and insomnia do exist, but further research is needed. Regarding psychological aspects, current reviews showed small to large effects in the reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms through cognitive behavioral-based interventions, mindfulness-based interventions, and meaning-based interventions. Meaning-based or dignity-based approaches were also used for targeting spiritual aspects or existential distress. Social aspects that play a crucial role in palliative care are addressed by social support interventions, end-of-life discussions, and advanced careplanning. All of these psychological interventions must meet the specific requirements of palliative care, namely abbreviated session time and flexibility concerning locality of interventions, a minimized questionnaire burden and a high attrition rate caused by patients’ poor physical conditions or deaths.SummaryThere is substantial research on psychological interventions in palliative care that shows promising results, but sample sizes were often small. Due to its high relevance for this growing patient group, there is a strong need for ongoing/further research.

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