Distress in palliative care patients: developing patient-centred approaches to clinical management

Eur J Cancer. 2008 May;44(8):1133-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2008.02.032. Epub 2008 Mar 24.


It is widely recognised by clinicians that depression is a difficult symptom to identify amongst patients with advanced illness. Many of the symptoms of depression are difficult to elicit in patients who are approaching the end of life. Additionally, many believe that a 'degree' of depression is almost normal as patients approach life's end. More recently the concept of demoralization as a separate entity to depression has been described which can be briefly described as a disorder of meaning and hope. In this paper, we review these diagnoses together with the latest screening tools which can help clinicians to recognise better such pathologies in their patients and discuss interventions that can be utilised to help patients with depression or demoralization to have a better quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Terminally Ill / psychology