This article will explore the psychological issues associated with end-of-life care for patients who have cancer. Psychological distress is a term that is widely used in relation to people coming towards the end of their lives. It was therefore felt important to examine specific components of psychological distress. Three main issues facing patients with advanced cancer were identified from the literature: suffering, burden and spiritual coping. It is acknowledged that these issues are faced by people with non-malignant as well as malignant disease. However, this article examines the literature associated with cancer. It aims to provide insight into the meaning of palliative care for such patients and to inform nursing practice. Nurses in all care settings should adopt many of the principles advocated in palliative care relating to the alleviation of psychological distress. The article will also examine the key principles of a good death. In addition, it will recommend ways to improve nurses’ skills in terms of easing the psychological distress of patients coming towards the end of their lives. Conflicts of interest: none
- Psychological issues
- Symptom management
- Terminal cancer
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