BACKGROUND: In increasingly multi-ethnic societies fostering cultural awareness and integration of immigrants is not only a political duty but also an obligation for social and healthcare systems. Importantly, cultural beliefs and needs strongly impact on the quality of life of cancer patients and may become even more crucial at the end of life. However, to date, ethnic and cultural aspects of palliative care are insufficiently researched.
METHODS: This qualitative study at the Medical University of Vienna included 21 staff members from different disciplines in oncology and palliative care working with patients with various cultural backgrounds at the end of life. Semi-structured interviews were performed to gain insights into specific aspects of palliative care that are important in the clinical encounter with terminally ill cancer patients with migrant backgrounds and their relatives.
RESULTS: Interviews revealed specific aspects of palliative care, which fell into four fundamental categories and were all perceived as beneficial in the clinical encounter with migrant clients: (A) structural and (B) personal conditions of the palliative care setting, (C) specific care and treatment intentions and (D) personnel requirements and attitudes.
CONCLUSION: This study revealed first insights into possibilities and prospects of transcultural palliative care for migrants and their relatives. The results might have important implications for the end of life care in this growing population.
BACKGROUND: Psychiatric symptoms are common in terminally ill patients. Studies linking temperamental traits and psychiatric disorders in patients suffering from advanced disease are rare. This study investigated the influence of temperament on depression and anxiety in palliative care cancer patients.
METHODS: A total of 53 patients at the palliative care unit (PCU) of the Medical University of Vienna were enrolled in the study. Patients filled out the TEMPS-M and the brief PHQ-9 questionnaires to examine associations between temperament, psychiatric symptoms and sociodemographic parameters.
RESULTS: Pain (67%), anorexia (58%), constipation (42%) and nausea/vomiting (40%) were the most prevalent self-reported symptoms. Self-reported symptoms of depression were less commonly reported (21.8%) than unveiled by the structured assessment by the PHQ-9 questionnaire: 26.4% (n = 14) showed mild symptoms of depression and 64.1% (n = 34) had a major depressive disorder (MDD) according to PHQ-9. The depressive and cyclothymic temperaments showed significant associations with depressive (both: p < 0.001) as well as symptoms of anxiety (p = 0.002; p = 0.036). Furthermore, the anxious temperament was significantly associated with symptoms of depression (p = 0.027).
CONCLUSIONS: Mood disorders are common in palliative care patients, as the majority of the patients were suffering from MDD. The depressive, cyclothymic and anxious temperaments were found to be correlated with depressive and anxious symptoms. A sensitization in this field might bring further improvements for the quality of life of palliative care patients and help to appropriately address psychiatric symptoms in palliative care.