The influence of stress and mental illness of family members on a terminally ill patient

Adriana Căruntu, palliative care trainer, director Center of Palliative Care ”Sf. Nectarie”, Bucharest, Romania

Address for correspondence: e-mail: caruntu.adriana @

In recent years there has been an alarming increase in cases of mental illness which affects the population of Bucharest. The first step in developing such a condition is the existence of multiple stress factors (low income, lack of employment, chronic disease in the family) that can lead to depression which is not treated in most cases.

Depression is the starting point to trigger other serious mental illnesses. Family members of a terminally ill patient who have psychiatric illnesses may be a factor affecting both the patient in the last days of life as well as the palliative care team. Patients with psychiatric disorders cannot care effectively and rationally for terminally ill relatives that need care.

Communicating with these family members is difficult. Mental disorders lead to false vision about the state of health of the hospitalized patient.

The medical team, when it finds this kind of family members of a terminally ill patient, should adopt a particular way of communication that does not lead to conflicts or situations that ultimately affect the patient. It is recommended that such family members are evaluated by a psychiatrist.

I therefore propose the inclusion of a psychiatrist in a palliative care team to support family members with psychiatric disorders.

Key words: palliative care, depression, mental illness, communication

(Full text in Romanian)