Perspectives on death and an afterlife in relation to quality of life, depression, and hopelessness in cancer patients without evidence of disease and advanced cancer patients
until further notice
SourceJournal of Pain and Symptom Management, 41, 6, (2011), pp. 1048-59
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Pain and Symptom Management
SubjectNCEBP 7: Effective primary care and public health; NCEBP 8: Psychological determinants of chronic illness ONCOL 4: Quality of Care; ONCOL 2: Age-related aspects of cancer; ONCOL 4: Quality of Care
CONTEXT: It is unknown whether cancer patients with different life expectancies have different attitudes and emotions toward death and an afterlife. Also, it is unclear whether these attitudes and emotions toward death and afterlife influence patients' distress. OBJECTIVES: To assess the relationship of attitudes and emotions towards death and an afterlife with quality of life, depression and hopelessness in cancer patients without evidence of disease and advanced cancer patients facing death. METHODS: Ninety-one cancer patients without evidence of disease and 57 advanced cancer patients completed the Dutch Attitudes Toward Death and Afterlife Scale. Emotions toward death were measured using the Self-Confrontation Method. Quality of life was measured with the Satisfaction with Life Scale and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality-of-Life Questionnaire. Depression and hopelessness were measured with the Beck Depression Inventory for Primary Care and the Beck Hopelessness Scale. RESULTS: Average scores on attitudes and emotions toward death and an afterlife were not significantly different between the two groups. However, in the no evidence of disease group, a negative association between negative emotions and social functioning was observed, which was not present in the advanced cancer group. In the advanced cancer group, associations were observed that were not present in the no evidence of disease group: positive associations between an explicitly religious attitude and global health status and between reincarnation belief and role and cognitive functioning, and a negative association between other-directed emotions and social functioning. CONCLUSION: Patients without evidence of disease and advanced cancer patients do not differ in attitudes or emotions toward death, but the relationship between these attitudes and emotions and aspects of quality of life varies. When there is no evidence of disease, negative emotions play the most important role, whereas in the advanced cancer situation, attitudes toward death and an afterlife, which may provide meaning and value, become more prominent.
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