, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 592-598
Date: 14 Mar 2009

Symptom Burden, Depression, and Spiritual Well-Being: A Comparison of Heart Failure and Advanced Cancer Patients

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ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

A lower proportion of patients with chronic heart failure receive palliative care compared to patients with advanced cancer.

OBJECTIVE

We examined the relative need for palliative care in the two conditions by comparing symptom burden, psychological well-being, and spiritual well-being in heart failure and cancer patients.

DESIGN

This was a cross-sectional study.

PARTICIPANTS

Sixty outpatients with symptomatic heart failure and 30 outpatients with advanced lung or pancreatic cancer.

MEASUREMENTS

Symptom burden (Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale-Short Form), depression symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form), and spiritual well-being (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy—Spiritual Well-Being scale).

MAIN RESULTS

Overall, the heart failure patients and the cancer patients had similar numbers of physical symptoms (9.1 vs. 8.6, p = 0.79), depression scores (3.9 vs. 3.2, p = 0.53), and spiritual well-being (35.9 vs. 39.0, p = 0.31) after adjustment for age, gender, marital status, education, and income. Symptom burden, depression symptoms, and spiritual well-being were also similar among heart failure patients with ejection fraction ≤30, ejection fraction >30, and cancer patients. Heart failure patients with worse heart failure-related health status had a greater number of physical symptoms (13.2 vs. 8.6, p = 0.03), higher depression scores (6.7 vs. 3.2, p = 0.001), and lower spiritual well-being (29.0 vs. 38.9, p < 0.01) than patients with advanced cancer.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with symptomatic heart failure and advanced cancer have similar needs for palliative care as assessed by symptom burden, depression, and spiritual well-being. This implies that heart failure patients, particularly those with more severe heart failure, need the option of palliative care just as cancer patients do.