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Kao YH, Goh CR
Correspondence: Dr Yung Hsiang Kao, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction The traditional family-centred approach to cancer management in Singapore often leads to nondisclosure of diagnosis to patients with advanced cancer. This study aimed to determine the rate of nondisclosure to such patients in Singapore, and compare it against the rate of nondisclosure to patients’ families and that of a study conducted in 1992.
Methods Consecutive patients (n = 100) with advanced cancer who were referred to a palliative home care service in 2004 were studied retrospectively. Comparison between the 1992 and present study groups was performed using chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests. Multivariate logistic regression was applied to patient age, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status, gender and ethnicity to identify factors associated with nondisclosure.
Results The overall nondisclosure rate among patients with advanced cancer was 23% (23/100), compared to only 2% (2/99) among their families (p < 0.001). The nondisclosure rates among ECOG 0–2 and ECOG 3–4 patients were 11% (7/62) and 42% (16/38), respectively (p < 0.001). There was no significant improvement in the nondisclosure rate among ECOG 3–4 patients when compared to the 1992 study (p = 0.94). It was more likely for nondisclosure to occur among patients aged ≥ 70 years (p < 0.001; odds ratio [OR] 14.77, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.68–59.26) and those with poor ECOG performance status (p = 0.019; OR 4.0, 95% CI 1.26–12.73). There was no significant association between nondisclosure and gender or ethnicity (p > 0.05).
Conclusion Disclosure of diagnosis to patients with advanced cancer remains a challenge in Singapore. The relationship between nondisclosure and advanced age, as well as nondisclosure and poor ECOG performance status, needs to be clarified with further studies.
Keywords: cancer, diagnosis disclosure, family-centred, palliative, Singapore
Singapore Med J 2013; 54(5): 255-258; http://dx.doi.org/10.11622/smedj.2013103
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