A Burden to Others: A Common Source of Distress for the Terminally Ill
Abstract:Recent research into the desire for death among people with terminal illness has begun to recognize the importance of “feeling oneself a burden to others” as a factor in suicidal behaviour. In this study, 69 patients with advanced cancer underwent semi-structured interviews. The sense of self-perceived burden was found to be a common experience, reported by 39.1% of participants as a minimal or mild concern and by 38% as a moderate to extreme concern. The sense of burden showed a low correlation with physical symptoms ( r ??=??0.02–0.24) and higher correlations with psychological problems ( r ??=??0.35–0.39) and existential issues ( r ??=??0.45–0.49). Comparisons of participants with high or low levels of self-perceived burden showed the importance of this factor for overall quality of life. In summary, self-perceived burden is an important but underestimated dimension of social cognition in the medically ill.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Élisabeth Bruyère Research Institute, SCO Health Service, Ottawa, Canada
Publication date: June 1, 2005