Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 72--77

Assessment of psychological distress and its effect on quality of life and social functioning in cancer patients


Department of Radiotherapy, Regional Cancer Center, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Gunaseelan Karunanithi
Department of Radiotherapy, Regional Cancer Center, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry - 605 006
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_104_17

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Purpose: The diagnosis of cancer and its treatment can make patients psychologically distressed. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the level of psychological distress and social functioning in cancer patients and to assess the association of these parameters with the quality of life (QOL) experienced by the patient. Patients and Methods: All cancer patients attending palliative care clinic who can understand and speak English or Tamil language were taken into the study. An interview technique with a questionnaire is used for data collection after informed consent. The questionnaire consisted of four sections, namely, demographic variables, general health questionnaire, WHO QOL-BREF, and SCARF social functioning index. All questionnaires were translated into the Tamil Language and were evaluated by the experts for content validity. Results: The median scores obtained are psychological distress = 44 (11–98), WHO QOL = 64 (36–117), and social function = 51 (29–79). Out of 251 patients, 30% had severe psychological distress, 25.6% had poor QOL, and 23.2% were with severely affected social function. Skilled laborers had better scores compared to unskilled laborers (P < 0.05). Family size (<2 children) had a positive impact on the QOL (P = 0.008). Patients from urban locales had better social functioning than rural counterpart (P = 0.047), but no difference was observed in distress level or QOL. Increased growth hormone distress score of the patients had a negative impact on both QOL (r = −0.522) and social function (r = −0.244). QOL correlated positively with social function (r = +0.247). Conclusion: Psychosocial stress associated with cancer and its treatment can impact the QOL and social functioning of the patient and needs to be addressed along with the cancer-directed therapy. Decreasing the symptom burden and distress level by palliative care intervention might improve the QOL and social function.






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