OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to examine differences in distress, problems and referral wish in cancer patients according to relationship status and life phase.
METHODS: A cross-sectional group of 1340 patients (response = 51%) completed socio-demographic and illness-related questions, and the Dutch version of the Distress Thermometer and Problem List that also assesses desire for additional care (yes, maybe and no). Relationship status was categorized into six groups (married, cohabiting, LAT (=living-apart-together: have a partner but live alone), divorced, widowed or single) and age into young (18-50), middle aged (51-65) and older (65+) cohorts.
RESULTS: Relationship status and life phase were independently related to high distress, referral wish and accordance between the latter two. Single and LAT patients were around two times more likely than married patients to be highly distressed, and wanting additional care. The same was found for younger patients as compared to 65+ patients. Whereas high distress is usually not a strong indication for additional care needs, single, LAT and younger patients most often wanted care when they were highly distressed.
CONCLUSION: Health care professionals who implement distress screening in practice can expect a higher need for additional care in single and LAT patients, but only when they are younger or middle aged. The benefit of having a partner around on a daily basis seems less important in dealing with cancer-related problems when patients are older. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- relationship status
- referral wish
- PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS