From the blog

Mesothelioma’s Effects on Mental Health

Published: April 19, 2024

Mesothelioma is a tough cancer to live with that is incurable and caused by asbestos. A recent study published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing looked at the impact of mesothelioma on mental health and wellbeing. The frequency of mental health conditions among patients and caregivers was also examined.

The study involved a survey of mesothelioma patients and informal caregivers. There were also semi-structured interviews that involved a smaller set of participants. The survey utilized scales to assess the conditions of patients’ mental health. This included health-related quality of life, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, and posttraumatic growth. The results showed that there are many challenges faced by both patients and caregivers.

There was a total of 96 survey responses. Results include 30 percent reporting clinical levels of depression, 50 percent reporting anxiety, 33 percent reporting posttraumatic stress disorder, and 35 percent reporting posttreaumatic growth. Caregiveres typically reported worse scores than patients, which shows that caring for someone with mesothelioma can take a huge emotional toll on people. Interviews of the participants revealed three main themes. The themes included prognosis, support from services, and social connections and communication. Both patients and caregivers emphasized the importance of receiving clear and empathetic communication from healthcare workers in addition to access to mental health support services.

Due to the findings, there are suggestions for healthcare workers giving a mesothelioma diagnosis. It shows that there is a need for regular training in communication skills and updated knowledge of current treatment options. The knowledge that caregivers bring to the table provides patients and caregivers an appropriate mix of realism and hope. This will ensure that people affected with mesothelioma will receive the support they need.

A new aspect of the study was the research in posttraumatic growth. Researchers who conducted the study recommend that nurses be trained to recognize, understand, and foster posttraumatic growth in patients and caregivers. This could potentially allow posttraumatic growth in patients and caregivers. There could be a potential for personal growth and positive change even after a devastating diagnosis. The study shows the significant mental health and well-being implications of a mesothelioma diagnosis. It proves the need for healthcare workers to give compassionate, informed care in addition to better access to mental health support services for both patients and caregivers dealing with a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Virginia Sherborne et al., “The mental health and well-being implications of a mesothelioma diagnosis: A mixed methods study” European Journal of Oncology Nursing (March 14, 2024). [Link]
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