"What bothers you the most?" Initial responses from patients receiving palliative care consultation

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. Apr-May 2008;25(2):88-92. doi: 10.1177/1049909107310138. Epub 2008 Jan 15.


The purpose of this investigation is to describe how hospitalized palliative care patients respond to the question "What bothers you the most?" at the time of initial consultation. A retrospective descriptive content analysis of first person responses routinely recorded during initial interview (n = 286) was carried out. Responses were grouped in 7 major categories: physical distress (44%); emotional, spiritual, existential, or nonspecific distress (16%); relationships (15%); concerns about the dying process and death (15%); loss of function and normalcy (12%); distress about location (11%); and distress with medical providers or treatment (9%). Fifteen percent of responses were unable to be reliably categorized. Although many of our patients were not able to answer open-ended questions because of illness, those who did shared a wide range of concerns that provided a starting point for clinical prioritization. Further research into the use of such simple questions at time of initial consultation is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Emotions
  • Existentialism / psychology
  • Family / psychology
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Grief
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • New York
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spirituality
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminally Ill / psychology*