Depression is a highly prevalent yet under-recognized and under-treated psychiatric illness in patients receiving palliative care. Nurses are the front-line health care professionals in these settings and are well-positioned to detect depressive symptoms and initiate pathways to care. Previous research suggests, however, that nurses confidence and skills in relation to this task are low, and there appear to be a number of barriers within these settings that may impede nurses engagement in this process. Methods: To further investigate these factors, a quantitative study was carried out with 69 palliative care nurses from three palliative care services in Australia. Results: A number of issues were identified, including the need for further training in the signs and symptoms of depression, issues around discussing depression with patients and their family members, and difficulty differentiating depressive symptoms from grief. Conclusion: These findings provide insight into specific areas in which palliative care nurses would benefit from further training to improve detection rates for depression in this vulnerable population.
McCabe, M. P., Mellor, D. J., Davison, T. E., Hallford, D. J., & Goldhammer, D. (2012). Detecting and managing depressed patients: palliative care nurses' self-efficacy and perceived barriers to care. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 15(4), 463 - 467. https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2011.0388