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Psychological and Existential Distress




There are many potential causes of transient distress in palliative care, including insensitive comments, long waits in clinical departments and disease symptoms. Such potential causes of distress should be an important focus of attention in everyday nursing practice, because the disruption and worry they cause is often unnecessary. More prolonged mood disturbance also needs to be a major focus of nursing practice. Existential threat is more likely to cause persistent anxiety or depressive symptoms requiring intervention. Although it is not a traditional medical diagnostic category, existential suffering is a substantial cause of distress.


Contents include

  • Introduction
  • Forms of existential distress
  • Assessing psychospiritual distress
  • Promoting hope while supporting grief
  • Healping death anxiety
  • Recognition and treatment of demoralisation syndrome
  • Actively managing anxiety and depression
  • Helping the family and community
  • Will you help me to die?
  • Conclusion
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Author / Editor Biographies

Associate Professor Patsy Yates is director of research for the Centre for Palliative Care Research and Education (Queensland, Australia), and is director of postgraduate programs in the School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology. She has extensive experience in clinical practice, education, and research in cancer and palliative care and, for the past six years, has held an academic and clinical appointment with the Division of Oncology at Royal Brisbane Hospital (Queensland, Australia).
David is is a consultant psychiatrist and professor of palliative medicine at the University of Melbourne (Victoria, Australia). He is also director of the Centre for Palliative Care which was formed in 1996 as a consortium of Melbourne care providers and institutions involved with palliative care. David's research interests include observational studies of adaptation to cancer, therapeutic interventions to enhance coping and outcome studies of bereaved families. In the past five years, he has produced 46 refereed articles, chapters, monographs and non-print media publications. David is on thr...

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