Psychiatry and terminal illness

H M Chochinov
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie 2000, 45 (2): 143-50

OBJECTIVE: To provide an overview of the palliative care literature salient to the psychiatric aspect of end-of-life care.

METHOD: A literature review was conducted, targeting primarily empirical studies that addressed the following topics: 1) psychological issues pertaining to life-threatening conditions; 2) family issues in the context of palliative care; 3) psychological issues and challenges faced by end-of-life health care providers; and 4) psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, and organic mental disorders, in people with terminal illness.

RESULTS: There is a small but emerging literature that can guide psychiatrists in their role of providing care to dying patients.

CONCLUSIONS: While psychiatry has made tremendous inroads toward providing care to patients throughout the life cycle, its presence is only just beginning to be felt in end-of-life care. Within the domain of palliative care, psychiatry has an expanded and important role to play.


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