Laura Dempsey, Eileen O’Grady, Carole Fabby

International Journal of Palliative Nursing, Vol. 18, Iss. 12, 20 Dec 2012, pp 592 - 596

Psychological distress is common in palliative care patients and their families, and anger is a complex component of distress experienced by many patients at the end of life. Anger can be a form of tension release, as well as a coping mechanism for the patient and a way to disguise fear and anxiety. The interdisciplinary team are responsible for recognising psychological distress in patients, assessing their needs, and providing adequate psychological support. Although a certain level of psychological distress such as anger is expected in terminally ill patients owing to their situation, such responses may also be dysfunctional. This paper aims to highlight the challenges and complexities of adequately assessing and supporting palliative care patients who are presenting with psychological distress in the form of anger, in order to relieve their suffering and assist them in resolving their issues and improving their quality of life. Anger can be difficult to treat, and for some patients can be more distressing than some physical symptoms. Hence this paper also aims to offer anger management guidance to palliative care practitioners.

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