The mental health and well-being implications of a mesothelioma diagnosis: A mixed methods study

European Journal of Oncology Nursing 2024 March 15 [Link]

Virginia Sherborne, Emily Wood, Catriona R Mayland, Clare Gardiner, Caitlin Lusted, Anna Bibby, Angela Tod, Bethany Taylor, Stephanie Ejegi-Memeh


Purpose: Mesothelioma is an incurable, asbestos-related cancer with a poor prognosis. There is scant evidence about the mental health and well-being impacts on patients and carers living with the illness. This study aimed to investigate mesothelioma’s impact on mental health and well-being and the scale of mental health conditions in patients and informal carers.

Methods: A mixed-methods design was used: a cross-sectional survey of mesothelioma patients and informal carers plus semi-structured interviews with patients and carers. The survey used validated scales collecting data on mental health aspects of mesothelioma: the EQ5D to assess health-related quality-of-life; the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale; the PCL-5 to assess Posttraumatic Stress; and the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. The datasets were integrated during analysis.

Results: 96 useable survey responses were received. A clinical level of depression was reported by 29 participants (30.21%), of anxiety by 48 (50%), of posttraumatic distress disorder by 32 (33.33%), and of posttraumatic growth by 34 (35.42%). Carers had worse scores than patients. Three main themes were developed from interviews with 10 patients and 11 carers: ‘Prognosis’, ‘Support from services’, and ‘Social connections and communication’.

Conclusions: Healthcare professionals delivering a mesothelioma diagnosis require regular training in communication skills plus updating in current treatment options, so they provide an appropriate mix of realism and hope. Better signposting to mental health support is needed for patients and carers. Our introduction of posttraumatic growth into the mesothelioma literature is novel. We recommend specialist nurses are trained to recognise, understand, and foster posttraumatic growth.