Is it important to psychologically evaluate a mesothelioma patient and their caregiver? A recent study believes so.

The study focused on how both patients and their caregivers cope with a malignant mesothelioma diagnosis and prognosis. It encompassed some of the psychological factors, such as anxieties and fears that can have an impact on them.

Interviewing Mesothelioma Warriors and Caregivers

During the study, 10 patients with malignant mesothelioma and 9 of their caregivers were recruited for interviews. Both patients and their caregivers were interviewed together by clinical psychologists.

“Patients and caregivers were interviewed together in order to promote communication between family members on MM diagnosis and its impact,” stated the study.

Interviews for all of the participants lasted approximately 45 minutes. To avoid getting insufficient data and only yes/no answers, the trained psychologists asked a series of open-ended questions.

Interviews covered a patient’s
  • Asbestos exposure
  • Work history
  • History of treatments
  • Impact of their disease to them personally
  • Impact of their disease on relationships with family and loved ones

The study also covered strategies on how a patient and their caregiver can handle the sensitive subjects of end of life, death, and survival.

“When participants did not talk about the prognosis of the illness, no explicit questions were made about dying, but plans for the future were alike explored,” the study said.

“Nothing Is Like It Was”

The interviews revealed that both patients and their caregivers mourn and grieve in different ways. In some scenarios, the phycologists noted changes in their attitudes and points of mood deflection.

“The problem is that you become too terrified,” a patient remarked about their diagnosis.

“You try not to think about it. The less I think about it, the better I feel,” replied a caregiver when asked about her loved one’s fate.

Receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis can be life-altering. During the study, caregivers and patients were asked how the disease impacted their daily lives. Researchers discovered that all of their answers tried to make the best of the situation.

“Well, nothing is like it was. You have to think about your situation and make it go on in another way,” explained a patient.

“What Will Become of Us?”

Researchers also asked questions that covered areas of worry and concern for both the patient and their caregiver. Data suggested that patients are concerned about how their diagnosis impacts the lives of their caregiver. It also revealed that a patient’s caregiver witnessed a change in their loved one after receiving their prognosis.

“They have always told him that he can live a normal life. He is the one who refuses to do so. He could live a very normal life, but he doesn’t because he knows he is sick. It makes me even madder that I cannot convince him to have a normal life,” answered a caregiver.

On contrary to what caregivers encountered, many patients expressed that they are doing their best to stay positive.

“You have to take life as it is. Work up the courage and go on,” responded a patient.

Improving Communication Between Patients and Caregivers

Researchers determined that it is easy for patients and caregivers to talk about the facts about mesothelioma, treatment, and their medical journey. On the other hand, emotions were harder to manage when talking about how this type of cancer has affected them personally.

“…We can trace in patients’ and caregivers’ narratives the need to find new ways to talk to each other and maybe a more adaptive way to face and put into words separation and death anxieties,” concluded the study.

Presently, researchers believe that health care services and interventions can help strengthen communication and the overall well-being of patients and caregivers. However, more research will need to be conducted.

You’re Not Alone – Help Is Available

A mesothelioma diagnosis can be hard to accept. It is important that patients and their caregivers stay strong and know that they are not alone.

Support GroupThere is help available in the form of support groups. Patients and caregivers can attend meetings in their community or even online. These groups provide an opportunity for individuals to share their experience and to surround themselves with others that can relate to them.

Hope resonates in the stories of survivors. Many mesothelioma warriors are rising above statistics. By taking their prognosis into their own hands, patients are even reaching a state of remission. You can learn more about defying the odds in our free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide.

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Show Sources & Author

  1. “The Less I Think About It, the Better I Feel”: A Thematic Analysis of the Subjective Experience of Malignant Mesothelioma Patients and Their Caregivers. Frontiers Media S.A. Retrieved from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00205/full. Accessed: 04/13/2018.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29515509. Accessed: 04/13/2018.

About the Writer, Nicole Godfrey

Nicole Godfrey is the Senior Content Writer for Mesothelioma Guide. She writes and edits pages to make sure that mesothelioma patients and their families receive the most current and significant information about mesothelioma.