New Research Measures Emotional Toll of Mesothelioma, According to Surviving Mesothelioma

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A study out of Italy has confirmed what thousands of mesothelioma patients and their caregivers already know: coping with mesothelioma can be emotionally and psychologically taxing.

Health care providers should...provide support to reduce emotional distress

As reported by Surviving Mesothelioma, a newly-released Italian study aims to measure the impact of mesothelioma on the quality of life for patients and their primary caregivers, with particular attention to the psychological well being of both groups.

Twenty-seven malignant pleural mesothelioma patients, 55 caregiving relatives, and 40 healthy people (who would serve as the control group) were asked to complete both a Quality of Life assessment from the World Health Organization (WHO) and a version of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a test which measures personality characteristics.

Not surprisingly, the mesothelioma patients reported poorer physical health than the healthy patients and were more likely to complain of memory problems and difficulty concentrating. But the study makes it clear that the caregivers of mesothelioma patients were also suffering, both physically and psychologically. Like their relatives with mesothelioma, the caregivers were more likely to report themselves to be in poorer physical health than the control group.

In addition, both mesothelioma patients and their caregivers reported a “greater belief that goals cannot be reached or problems solved” and said they felt more indecisive and ineffective in their lives than the healthy control group. As a group, caregivers in the study also said they had a lower opinion of others and were more likely to suffer from fear that “significantly inhibited normal activities”.

Writing on their findings in the medical journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, the University-based research team said it was important that, while treating their physical needs, clinicians be careful not to ignore the very real psychological needs of both mesothelioma patients and their caregivers. “Health care providers should assess the ongoing adjustment and emotional wellbeing of people with malignant pleural mesothelioma and their relatives, and provide support to reduce emotional distress,” they write.

Typically arising three or more decades after occupational exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma is most often seen in men over 65. Many patients have no idea of the danger of their exposure until mesothelioma symptoms arise, at which time the disease progresses quickly. There is no cure.

The original Italian study appears in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. (Granieri, A, et al, “Quality of life and personality traits in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma and their first-degree caregivers”, August 14, 2013, Epub ahead of print.

For nearly ten years, Surviving Mesothelioma has brought readers the most important and ground-breaking news on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma. All Surviving Mesothelioma news is gathered and reported directly from the peer-reviewed medical literature. Written for patients and their loved ones, Surviving Mesothelioma news helps families make more informed decisions.

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Michael Ellis
Cancer Monthy
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