Can personal resources make a difference? an exploratory study of chinese cancer patients in palliative care

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Objective: Social work's emphasis on the strengths and personal resources of clients can enrich our understanding of palliative care patients. In this study, availability of various personal resources to patients is examined. Also explored are differences in psychosocial outcome between patients with a particular personal resource and those without it. Methods: Clinical data mining was the research method. Clinical records of deceased palliative care patients in the years 2003-2005 were reviewed. Univariate and independent t-tests were used to analyze the data. Results: A total of 935 patients were included. "Caregivers' support and acceptance" was found to be the most common personal resource that patients possessed. Findings indicated that patients who experienced "caregivers' support and acceptance" and "fullness in life" showed significantly fewer psychosocial symptoms than patients who did not possess these personal resources on admission to palliative care, and in the final days before death. Conclusion: This study is the first step toward further development of social work research in palliative care. Findings revealed that experiencing a sense of fullness in life and receiving support from family members and caregivers may be perceived as essential personal resources that enhance the search for meaning in terminal illness. Helping professionals like social workers may facilitate patients' development of these personal resources, possibly resulting in better psychosocial status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-200
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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