Illness awareness in terminal cancer patients: an Italian study

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The amount and quality of information and awareness in cancer patients' is a topic frequently debated, but few studies have focussed on terminal patients. This is the objective of the present study that involved two different palliative home-care units in Italy, which recruited 550 terminal cancer patients. Data from patients and their care-givers was prospectively collected with special attention to information patients were provided with when their cancer was diagnosed and patients' awareness of their current health condition. In the case of the information, 67.0% of patients reported they were previously informed about their diagnosis, but only 58.0% seemed to be aware of their terminal condition. The comparison between the caregivers opinions about the level of information provided to the patients and their present awareness and what the patients really know about their own disease shows a high degree of correspondence. Some variables such as age and education level of patients were associated with patient's awareness.

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