Proposed Scales for Measuring Suicidal Ideation in Adult Cancer Patients


Suicidal ideation, which can occur in oncology patients, is associated with suffering and a reduced quality of life. Empirical studies indicate that the incidence of suicide in people with cancer is approximately twice that of the general population. Objective: This cross-sectional descriptive study was designed to establish the prevalence of suicidal ideation in adult oncology patients based on a combination of scales to measure this variable. Method: A battery of three instruments (Scale for Suicidal Ideation. Item 9 of Beck’s Depression Inventory, and a semi-structured interview) was used to make estimates that are not based on just one test and can thus make a comprehensive evaluation of suicidal ideation in the study sample. Four approximations, based on different items from suicidal ideation assessment scales, were developed to determine the most sensitive combination for identifying the presence of suicidal ideation in adult cancer patients. Results: The highest prevalence of suicidal ideation found with the proposed scales was 24.5% (CI = 16%-33%) with Scale 1; 23.6% (CI = 15.2%-32%) with Scale 2; and 19.1% (CI = 11.3%-26.9%) with Scale 4. The lowest prevalence of suicidal ideation was 17.3% (CI = 9.8%-24.8%) with Scale 3. Conclusions: Suicidal behavior in the oncology patient should be assessed; however, there is a need to select sensitive instruments that can be applied easily and are suitable for the target group, which faces difficulties in participating in extensive evaluations.

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D. Leal-Hernández, L. Sandoval, X. Palacios-Espinosa and J. Cuevas, "Proposed Scales for Measuring Suicidal Ideation in Adult Cancer Patients," Open Journal of Medical Psychology, Vol. 3 No. 1, 2014, pp. 79-86. doi: 10.4236/ojmp.2014.31010.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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