chapter  10
17 Pages

Life-threatening Illness

Life-threatening illness has become more prevalent today than in the past. As our population ages and medicine extends lives, the incidence of individuals living with incurable disease increases. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2003), for instance, the life expectancy of Americans reached a high of 77.2 years in 2001; at the same time, the number of deaths attained an all-time low. For example, cancer has become so common that half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States will have it at some time in their lives. Despite this, only about half of those diagnosed with cancer will die from it (Glajchen, Portenoy, Fraidin, Goelitz, Green, & Gregory, 2002). Furthermore, although about one-third of these cancer patients are at risk psychosocially, only 15 to 25% of that group seek help from professionals with their difficulties in adjusting to being ill (Cwikel & Behar, 1999). Therefore, determining appropriate psychosocial screening, assessment, and treatment options for this growing population of trauma survivors has become a significant endeavor.