Clinical correlates of suicidal thoughts in patients with advanced cancer.
Mental Health Services
Quality of Life
: Cancer patients are at heightened risk of suicide. Clinical correlates of suicidal ideation in advanced cancer patients were examined to identify those at risk and to inform the development of interventions to reduce suicidal ideation in this vulnerable group.
: Coping with Cancer (CwC) is an NCI- and NIMH-funded multiinstitutional investigation examining psychosocial influences on the quality of life and care of advanced cancer patients. Baseline face-to-face interviews that assessed mental and physical functioning, coping, spirituality, and use of mental health services were conducted with 700 advanced cancer patients.
: Compared with patients without suicidal ideation, the 8.9% of patients who reported suicidal thoughts were more likely to be white and report no affiliation with an organized religion (p < 0.05). Adjusted analyses revealed that cancer patients who met criteria for current panic disorder (adjusted odds ratio [95% confidence interval] 3.24 [1.01-10.4]) and posttraumatic stress disorder (3.97 [1.13-14.1]), who accessed mental health services (3.70 [2.07-6.67]), particularly psychotherapy (2.62 [1.20-5.71]), who were not feeling well physically, and who lacked a sense of self-efficacy, spirituality, and being supported were more likely than others to report thoughts of suicide (p < 0.05).
: Advanced cancer patients who report suicidal thoughts are more likely to meet criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder and panic disorder, feel unsupported, lack a religious affiliation, spirituality, and a sense of self-efficacy, and experience more physical distress. Palliative care interventions that promote a sense of self-efficacy, spirituality, and support while minimizing physical distress may offer promise for reducing suicidal thoughts in this at-risk group.