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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • anxiety disorders;
  • end of life;
  • palliative care;
  • physician-patient relationship;
  • neoplasm

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The authors explored associations between anxiety disorders and advanced cancer patients' physical performance status, physician-patient relationships, end-of-life (EOL) treatment preferences and outcomes, and quality of death.

METHODS:

The Coping with Cancer study was a National Cancer Institute/National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored, prospective, longitudinal, multicenter cohort study of patients with advanced cancer. Six hundred thirty-five patients completed the anxiety disorders module of the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV. The results were compared with patients' baseline physical performance status, treatment preferences, perceptions of the physician-patient relationship, and advance care planning (ACP).

RESULTS:

Approximately 7.6% of patients met criteria for an anxiety disorder. Patients who were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder were more likely to be women and younger and to have a worse physical performance status. Although there were no significant differences in patients' EOL treatment preferences or care, ACP, hospice enrollment, or patients' location of death, there were significant differences in how patients with anxiety disorders perceived the physician-patient relationship. Patients with anxiety disorders had less trust in their physicians, felt less comfortable asking questions about their health, and felt less likely to understand the clinical information that their physicians presented. They also were more likely to believe that their physicians would offer them futile therapies and would not adequately control their symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS:

Women, patients who were more physically impaired, and younger patients with advanced cancer were more likely to meet criteria for an anxiety disorder. Patients with advanced cancer who had an anxiety disorder were more likely to experience greater challenges to the physician-patient relationship. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.