The contribution of psychologists in end-of-life care can occur throughout the disease trajectory, namely starting before the disease, after diagnosis, at the beginning of treatments, during advanced disease, the death process, and after death. of the patient, with bereaved survivors.
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The American Psychological Association identifies the following four main roles that psychologists play in this area: Clinical Roles – treatment and management of mental health problems associated with the approaching moment of death. Support for caregivers and family members in facilitating expression on issues of grief and loss and traumatic stress. The participation of psychologists in hospital ethics committees, palliative care and other multidisciplinary teams is equally important. Educational and Training Roles – Psychologists teach people to understand loss, grief and the differences between normal sadness and clinical depression at the end of life. They mobilize knowledge and information about advanced health care planning and decisions (including “living will”) and teach coping mechanisms. Research Roles – Psychologists play key roles in conducting research into important end-of-life issues such as death anxiety; decision making at the end of life; family care; psychological aspects of pain and symptom management; anticipatory grief and mourning. Advocacy role – There are numerous opportunities for psychologists with quality end-of-life care. Often end-of-life patients and their families are not fully aware of various care options or are not fully aware of the likely benefits and burdens of these various options. Psychologists can work with other health professions in advocating policy development to ensure people know what types of interventions and services are available to them. Other issues to address include advocating for systemic changes in legal and organizational obstacles to quality care, advocating continued discussion of death issues in the media, in the community and in professional meetings to overcome societal reluctance to address these issues that many consider a taboo topic, and advocate for more equitable end-of-life care for minority groups.
Speaker: Bárbara Antunes
Associate Researcher at the University of Cambridge and University of Coimbra
Department of Psychology