Strategies and Barriers in Addressing Mental Health and Suicidality in Patients with Cancer

Leeat Granek*, Ora Nakash, Samuel Ariad, Shahar Shapira, Merav Ben-David

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To identify how oncology nurses address mental health distress and suicidality in patients, what strategies they employ in treating this distress, and the barriers they face in addressing distress and suicidality in patients with cancer. PARTICIPANTS & SETTING: 20 oncology nurses at two cancer centers in Israel were interviewed. METHODOLOGIC APPROACH: The grounded theory method of data collection and analysis was employed. FINDINGS: Strategies used in addressing patients' mental health distress were being emotionally available, providing practical support, treating physical symptoms, and referring to counseling. Strategies in addressing suicidality were assessing the situation, offering end-of-life or palliative care, treating physical symptoms, and referring for assessment. Barriers to addressing distress were lack of training, stigma, workload or lack of time, and limited availability and accessibility of mental health resources. Barriers in addressing suicidality were lack of knowledge and training, patient reluctance to receive care, and lack of protocol. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING: Developing guidelines for addressing and responding to mental health distress and suicidality is essential to improving patients' quality of life and reducing disease-related morbidity and mortality. Reducing mental healthcare stigma for patients is critical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-571
Number of pages11
JournalOncology Nursing Forum
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


    • grounded theory
    • mental health care
    • mental health distress
    • stigma
    • suicide


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