Using a variety of validated palliative care scales, such as the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Syndrome (ESAS) for physical complaints, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Short Depression Scale, the Mini Mental Adjustment to Cancer scale (Mini-MAC), and the positive and negative RCOPE questionnaire for religious coping, among other scales, Dr. Dunn and her associates found that the change in baseline of overall spiritual health after intervention from the chaplain improved slightly in most measures. Mean baseline scores for the ESAS went from 25 to 24.4 post-intervention. The difference between baseline depression scores fell from 4.2 to 4.1.
Mini-MAC scores improved, particularly in “fighting spirit” and levels of fatalism (P = .084 and P = .036, respectively). In addition, maladaptive coping skills also improved (P = .018).The findings have helped Dr. Dunn in her work as a geriatric psychiatrist, especially when treating cancer patients, or in settings where there is not as much time for a full clinical assessment. “I think of patients in terms of their core needs and what I can do right now to help patients meet those needs.” Dr. Dunn cited, as an example, patients who feel like they don’t belong and are lonely. “If they’re in an assisted living home, can I get them to enter [the communal space]? That’s very different than thinking of them in terms only of depression.”
On Twitter @whitneymcknight