Prevalence and factors associated with demoralization in palliative care patients: A cross-sectional study from Hong Kong

Wallace Chi Ho Chan, Clare Tsz Kiu Yu, Denis Ka Shaw Kwok, Jamie Kit Ming Wan

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Although demoralization is common among palliative care patients, it has not yet been examined empirically in the Hong Kong Chinese context. This study aims to examine (1) the prevalence of demoralization among community-dwelling palliative care patients in Hong Kong; (2) the percentage of palliative care patients who are demoralized but not depressed and vice versa; and (3) the association of socio-demographic factors, particularly family support, with demoralization.

A cross-sectional study targeting community-living palliative care patients in Hong Kong was conducted. A total of 54 patients were recruited by a local hospice and interviewed for completing a questionnaire which included measures of demoralization, depression, perceived family support, and demographic information.

The prevalence of demoralization was 64.8%. Although there was overlap between demoralization and depression (52.8% meeting the criteria of both), 7.5% of depressed patients were not demoralized, and 13.2% of demoralized patients were not depressed. Participants who were not single and had more depressive symptoms and less family support had a significantly higher demoralization level.

Significance of results
This is the first study which reports the prevalence of demoralization in Hong Kong. Demoralization was found common in community-living palliative care patients receiving medical social work services in Hong Kong. This study provides evidence of the importance of differentiating the constructs between demoralization and depression. It also provides an implication that those who are married, more depressed, and have the least family support could be the most vulnerable group at risk of demoralization. We recommend that early assessment of demoralization among palliative care patients be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Early online date2 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes

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