The association of demoralization with mental disorders and suicidal ideation in patients with cancer

Vehling, Sigrun, Kissane, David W., Lo, Christopher, Glaesmer, Heide, Hartung, TIm J., Rodin, Gary, and Mehnert, Anja (2017) The association of demoralization with mental disorders and suicidal ideation in patients with cancer. Cancer, 123 (17). pp. 3394-3401.

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BACKGROUND: Demoralization refers to a state in which there is a perceived inability to cope, that is associated with a sense of disheartenment and a loss of hope and meaning. This study investigated the co-occurrence versus independence of demoralization with mental disorders and suicidal ideation to evaluate its features as a concept of distress in the context of severe illness.

METHODS: In a cross-sectional sample of 430 mixed cancer patients, we assessed demoralization with the Demoralization Scale (DS); the 4-week prevalence of mood, anxiety, and adjustment disorders and suicidal ideation with the standardized Composite International Diagnostic Interview–Oncology (CIDI-O); and depressive symptoms with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). We compared the relative risk (RR) for mental disorders associated with demoralization to that associated with self-reported depression.

RESULTS: Clinically relevant levels of demoralization were present in 21% of the patients. Demoralization co-occurred with a mood/anxiety disorder in 7%; 14% were demoralized in absence of any mood/anxiety disorder. Demoralization and adjustment disorders co-occurred in 2%. The RR for any mood/anxiety disorder was 4.0 in patients with demoralization (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.5-6.2) and 3.0 in those with depression (95% CI, 1.9-4.6). Demoralization, but not depression, was associated with a significantly increased risk for suicidal ideation after controlling for mental disorders (RR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.1-3.5).

CONCLUSIONS: Clinically relevant demoralization frequently occurs independently of a mental disorder in patients with cancer and has a unique contribution to suicidal ideation. Demoralization is a useful concept to identify profiles of psychological distress symptoms amenable to interventions improving psychological well-being in this population.

Item ID: 69204
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1097-0142
Copyright Information: © 2017 American Cancer Society.
Funders: German Cancer Aid (GCA)
Projects and Grants: GCA 107465
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2021 23:45
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520304 Health psychology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2001 Clinical health > 200105 Treatment of human diseases and conditions @ 100%
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