Contributions to the Study of Psychosocial Aspects in Hematologic Malignancies


Hematological malignancies are severe diseases, fatal when untreated, with a profound psychosocial impact on the patient, family members, friends and society. Scientific discoveries from the last years about the understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of hematological malignancies and the innovative modern treatment options (including bone marrow transplantation) have changed in a favourable way the evolution and the prognosis of patients with these diseases, but brought along other consequences on the quality of life, psychoemotional aspects and social insertion. The psychological manifestations are variable, occuring at each transitional point of illness: establishment and communication of diagnosis of the hematological malignancy, beginning of treatment, evolution and disease progression. The factors which influence the psychosocial response are the emotional stability of the person before diagnosis and the existence of a social support (family members, friends, colleagues).
The communication of diagnosis determined an acute emotional stress of the patient, family members and friends, because they associated the hematological malignancy with a severe disease, a specific aggressive long-term treatment, frequent and unpleasant side effects (nausea, vomiting, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, neurological complications, neutropenia etc), lenghty hospitalisation, family separation, temporary or definitive loss of social insertion, financial burden. The emotional response of the patient and family to the diagnosis of the hematological malignancy is characterised by shock, disbelief, denial, anxiety, depression, sleep and appetite disturbances, difficulty in performing everyday activities (1, 2, 3).