Beyond the bucket list: Unfinished and business among advanced cancer patients Journal Article


Authors: Masterson, M. P.; Slivjak, E.; Jankauskaite, G.; Breitbart, W.; Pessin, H.; Schofield, E.; Holland, J.; Lichtenthal, W. G.
Article Title: Beyond the bucket list: Unfinished and business among advanced cancer patients
Abstract: Objective: The study aims to examine the prevalence and common themes of unfinished business (UB) and its associations with distress among advanced cancer patients. Methods: A total of 223 patients from a larger randomized controlled trial of Individual Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy (IMCP) completed self-report questionnaires that assessed UB and UB-related distress, hopelessness, desire for hastened death, anxiety and depression, quality of life, spiritual well-being, and purpose/meaning. Unfinished business themes were identified by qualitative analysis of open-ended data. Results: A total of 161 (72%) patients reported the presence of UB. The mean UB-related distress score was 7.01 (SD = 2.1) out of 10. Results of independent t tests showed that patients with UB reported significantly higher levels of anxiety and lower levels of existential transcendence than patients without UB. Linear regression equations indicated that UB-related distress significantly predicted hopelessness (F1,154 = 9.54, P < 0.05, R2 = 0.058), anxiety (F1,154 = 4.31, P < 0.05, R2 = 0.027), personal meaning (F1,136 = 6.18, P < 0.05, R2 = 0.043), and existential transcendence (F1,119 = 6.7, P < 0.05, R2 = 0.053). Ten UB themes emerged from open-ended responses; UB themes were not associated with UB-related distress or psychological adjustment. Conclusions: Unfinished business was both prevalent and distressing in our sample. Findings underscore the need to develop and implement interventions designed to help patients resolve or find solace with UB. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Keywords: oncology; existential distress; end of life; thematic analysis; mixed methods; cancer; unfinished business
Journal Title: Psycho-Oncology
Volume: 27
Issue: 11
ISSN: 1057-9249
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons  
Date Published: 2018-11-01
Start Page: 2573
End Page: 2580
Language: English
DOI: 10.1002/pon.4821
PUBMED: 29947443
PROVIDER: scopus
PMCID: PMC6219918
DOI/URL:
Notes: Article -- Export Date: 3 December 2018 -- Source: Scopus
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MSK Authors
  1. William S Breitbart
    335 Breitbart
  2. Hayley Ann Pessin
    68 Pessin
  3. Elizabeth Theresa Slivjak
    10 Slivjak