Psychological Distress Experienced by Families of Cancer Patients: Preliminary Findings from Psychiatric Consultation of a Cancer Center Hospital

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Abstract

Objective

The purpose of the present study was to obtain preliminary findings regarding psychiatric disorders and background characteristics among Japanese family members of cancer patients.

Methods

We investigated the psychiatric diagnosis and background factors of family members of cancer patients by analyzing the consultation data of patients referred to the Psychiatry Division, National Cancer Centre Hospital East, Japan.

Results

Of a total of 1469 psychiatric consultation, 47 (3.2%) family members were referred, and 85% of them were spouses. The most common patient cancer site was the lung. Approximately one-half of the referred family encountered patients’ end-of-life issues. The most common psychiatric diagnoses were adjustment disorders, followed by major depression.

Conclusions

These preliminary findings suggest that psychosocial support for family members is not fully delivered and development of a comprehensive support system for caregivers of cancer patients is an urgent issue in the clinical oncology setting in Japan.

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