Aims: Patients with intractable disease require long-term treatment and experience repeated bouts of progressive symptoms and resolutions, which cause them severe suffering. The aim of this study was to elucidate the concepts of self-transcendence and subjective well-being in patients with intractable disease. Methods: Forty-four patients with intractable disease (men/women: 22/22) participated. The diseases of the participants were classified into five systems: (i) neural/muscle system; (ii) digestive system; (iii) immunity/blood system; (iv) visual system; and (v) bone/joint system. The controls were 1854 healthy individuals (men/women: 935/869). Participants completed the Self-Transcendence Scale (STS) and the Japanese version of the World Health Organization-Subjective Inventory. The Japanese version of the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview was also used for the intractable disease group. Results: Analysis of covariance found a significant increase in STS score among the intractable disease group (P < 0.001). Multiple regression analysis showed that the positive affect measured by the World Health Organization-Subjective Inventory showed the greatest effect on the STS score for the intractable disease group (β = 0.539, P < 0.001). Conclusion: As a life-changing experience, an intractable disease may influence an increase in self-transcendence. The results also showed that there was a strong correlation between self-transcendence and respondents' subjective well-being. Our results suggest that patients with life-changing intractable disease can have a high level of self-transcendence, which may lead them to regain mental well-being, and increase their psychological health even in situations that cause physical and mental suffering.
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