Mental health in significant others of patients dying from lung cancer

Psychooncology. 2010 Jan;19(1):29-37. doi: 10.1002/pon.1433.


Objective: Definitions and measures of significant others' mental health vary, but stress processes have been associated with caregiver outcomes of this kind. Thus, various mental health outcomes probably appear, either as specific responses to particular types of caregiver stressors, or as part of a general response resulting from an accumulation of various stressors. The present study explores the occurrence of symptoms of strain with regard to depression, exhaustion, and emotional well-being in significant others of patients dying from lung cancer, and how these symptoms coexist.

Methods: Measures used were the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale, the OLdenburg Burnout Inventory, and the Swedish Health-Related Quality of Life Survey. Data from 84 significant others of patients dying from lung cancer were collected at a time-point during the last 4 months before the patients died and subsequently analysed. The occurrence of symptoms of strain was established by creating cut-off scores from the general population. To explore how the different symptoms coexisted, hierarchical agglomerative cluster analyses were conducted using Ward's method.

Results: Approximately 40% of the significant others reported symptoms of strain for each of the three outcomes, and a coexistence was found since the significant others clustered as subgroups, ranging from 'high on all scales' to 'low on all scales'.

Conclusion: A considerable proportion of the significant others were thus negatively affected in terms of mental health. We conclude that being a significant other of a person dying from lung cancer most likely results in a general response to this major life event.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / psychology
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Terminal Care / psychology*
  • Young Adult