Beyond numbers – Recent understanding of emotional needs of persons diagnosed with cancer 2007–2018

Authors : Alexander A, Sreenath K, Murthy RS

Publication Year : 2020

Abstract :

Epidemiology is a vital tool of public health. The usefulness of epidemiology is not only about numbers of persons' ill in the community but also to understand the associations, the presentation, identification of new syndromes, to map the historical trends, and calculate morbid risk. The emotional impact of the diagnosis of cancer is well-recognized. Indian cancer research relating to the psychosocial aspects has been largely limited to counting the numbers with psychiatric syndromes. The review covers 12 years of the Indian research in psycho-oncology to understand the different aspects of epidemiology. During the review period, there are growing number of epidemiological studies (29); psychiatric morbidity ranges from 41.7% to 46%; and prevalence rate ranges from 4.4% to 97.8% for anxiety and 1.2%–89.9% for depression; majority of the studies have used one-stage screening for assessment, which is not the ideal method of identifying mental disorders. The severity of the disorders is presented only in nine studies. Quality of life is the most common associated dimension of the studies. There is the absence of studies of posttraumatic growth, resilience, and spirituality. This review calls for greater rigor in the planning of studies of emotional impact, especially the use of two-stage method, longitudinal studies, studies of different types of cancer and in different stages, include additional measures such as disease burden, coping, resilience, spirituality, and the family/social factors to understand the emotional aspects of living with cancer. There is a need for describing the emotional aspects of living with cancer (lived-in experiences) beyond the clinical syndromes.