Depression, The Meaning of Suffering and Life Satisfaction in Cancer Patients

암환자의 우울, 고통의 의미와 삶의 만족

  • Published : 2001.06.30


Despite the advances in cancer therapy in the last 20 years, cancer continues to be a life-threatening illness, and the newly diagnosed individual faces a crisis that emphasized his or her mortality. Patients who suffer from cancer may have psychological problems, especially depression. Most tend to seek the meaning of suffering when continuing pain was experienced. Then the search for meaning, which is one of the primary needs of humans, begins. This meaning is "unique and specific" to the individual, and it must be fulfilled by the individual alone. This study was conducted to provide a basis of data for a nursing intervention program to minimize a cancer patient's suffering and to understand the relationship between life satisfaction, depression, and the meaning of suffering in cancer patients. The sample was composed of 160 cancer patients who were inpatients or outpatients of three general hospitals in Seoul. Data collections were carried out from February 25th to April 20th of 2000. The data was analyzed using a SAS program for descriptive statistics, Pearson Correlations, ANOVA, and Duncan tests. The results were as follows: 1. The scores on the depression scale ranged from 20 to 65 with a mean of 40.76 (SD 9.6) The mean score on the suffering scale was 97.72 (SD 12.7), and the score of the life satisfaction ranged from 15 to 37 with a mean of 25.51 (SD 5.2). 2. There were significant correlations between the amount of life satisfaction and depression (r=-.61, P=.00), the life satisfaction and the meaning of suffering (r=.30, p=.00), and the depression and the meaning of suffering (r=-.24, p=.00). 3. The factors influencing the depression in patients with cancer are age (F=2.52, p=.04) and education level (F=3.98, p=.00). The level of the meaning of suffering in cancer patients differed by education level (F=4.13, p=.00). Also, the level of the life satisfaction in cancer patients differed by education level (F=2.72, p=.04). In conclusion, the correlation between the depression, the meaning of suffering, and life satisfaction can be used as a concrete and practical datum for the development of nursing intervention. This may assist patients with cancer, overcome their suffering and lead to a hopeful life by understanding the meaning of suffering.