I must commend the eminent Norman Cousins for his forthright article (Editorial Pages, July 10), "State of Mind Does Affect State of Health."
Cousins proclaims that the attitude of a patient does indeed make a difference in the treatment of cancer. However, as a professional health practitioner I'd like to amplify that statement. The attitudes of all patients are significant to their state of health and well-being, whether the diagnosis is cancer or any other complex catastrophic disease. The question arises, Who is going to assist the patient with his feelings at this crucial time?
Emotions run rampant when a person is first told of his disease process. Usually the patient is panic-stricken, and subsequently takes refuge in a depressive state. And the family is in a state of shock and denial and can barely cope. The primary physician sees the patient for about 5 to 10 minutes daily. On an out-patient basis, he sees the patient once or twice a week, if that often. The nurses and other medical care givers are woefully understaffed and overburdened and find it difficult to give any meaningful psychosocial intervention. The entire health team, even if well organized to set priorities for patient's needs, is lucky to get its work done in an eight-hour shift.