Psychological impact of informed consent in hospitalized cancer patients
Patients with cancer receive an explanation of their disease and the recommended treatment when they are asked to give informed consent (IC). In the course of this process patients suffer severe distress, including anxiety and depression, but physicians tend to underestimate it. The goal of this study was to reveal the magnitude of such stress and any changes to this during the IC process by means of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale, a self-assessment scale. Of 171 in-patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer, 119 were assessable for serial HAD scale scores on admission, immediately after the IC process, and at 1 and again at 2 weeks after the IC. Both anxiety and depression scores increased significantly immediately after IC. Female patients had significantly higher anxiety and depression scores than males at 1 week after the IC. The patients with poor performance status demonstrated high anxiety scores on admission and immediately after the IC, and substantial depression persisted longer in these patients. The prevalence of high scores of more than 11 (judged as adjustment disorder or more severe state) immediately after the IC was 50% for anxiety and 31% for depression. The prevalence decreased significantly within 1 or 2 weeks, but 41% and 14% of the patients still showed high anxiety and depression scores, respectively. Physicians should be aware of these facts and pay special attention to their patients' psychological distress in routine clinical practice.
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