The research was designed to measure the perceptions of health care professionals toward women with serious illness. Physicians, psychologists and nurses were randomly chosen from lists of licensed practicing professionals and were surveyed. Each respondent read one of four vignettes describing a woman who had received one of four diagnoses: breast cancer, lung cancer, heart attack, or severe burn. The respondents were asked to respond to the Profile of Mood States (POMS) as they perceived the woman had been feeling during the past week. They then answered a series of ten questions about the woman's recovery and about their own anticipated behaviors while interacting with her. Two-way ANOVAs revealed that nurses and psychologists perceived the woman as having more mood disturbance and they saw more need for psychological counseling than physicians, regardless of her diagnosis. Several differences emerged in terms of perceptions of diagnosis. Subjects perceived themselves as being more comfortable around heart attack patients than lung cancer patients, breast cancer patients or burn patients and as having more difficulty talking to a woman with lung cancer than a woman with a heart attack. They also perceived a woman with lung cancer as having poorer chances of survival and they perceived women with more disfiguring disorders, breast cancer and severe burns, as having more sexual adjustment problems than the other diagnostic groups. The results of this survey supports the need for training for health care professionals in recognizing psychological distress in, and appropriately referring, seriously ill women.
- Pub Date:
- January 1990
- Psychology: Clinical, Physics: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Women's Studies