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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Palliative Care 1/2015

The relationship between pain management and psychospiritual distress in patients with advanced cancer following admission to a palliative care unit

BMC Palliative Care > Ausgabe 1/2015
Ya-Ping Lee, Chih-Hsun Wu, Tai-Yuan Chiu, Ching-Yu Chen, Tatsuya Morita, Shou-Hung Hung, Sin-Bao Huang, Chia-Sheng Kuo, Jaw-Shiun Tsai
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

Conceived and designed the study: TYC, CYC, JST. Analyzed the data: YPL, CHW, JST. Commented on the data analysis: TM, SHH, SBH, CSK. Wrote the paper: YPL, JST. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Although many cross-sectional studies have demonstrated the association between cancer pain and psychospiritual distress, the time-dependent relationship has not been fully explored. For that reason, this study aims to investigate the time-dependent relationship between psychospiritual distress and cancer pain management in advanced cancer patients.


This is a prospective observational study. Two hundred thirty-seven advanced cancer patients were recruited from a palliative care unit in Taiwan. Demographic and clinical data were retrieved at admission. Pain and psychospiritual distress (i.e.: anxiety, depression, anger, level of family and social support, fear of death) were assessed upon admission and one week later, by using a “Symptom Reporting Form”. Patients were divided into two groups according to the pain status one week post-admission (improved versus not improved groups).


One hundred sixty-three (68.8 %) patients were assigned to the improved group, and 74 (31.2 %) patients were assigned to the not improved group. There were no differences in the psychospiritual variables between groups upon admission. In overall patients, all psychospiritual variables improved one week post-admission, but the improvement of depression and family/social support in the not improved group was not significant. Consistent with this, for depression scores, there was a statistically significant pain group x time interaction effect detected, meaning that the pain group effect on depression scores was dependent on time.


We demonstrated a time-dependent relationship between depression and pain management in advanced cancer patients. Our results suggest that poor pain management may be associated with intractable depression. The inclusion of interventions that effectively improve psychospiritual distress may contribute to pain management strategies for advanced cancer patients.
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