BACKGROUND: Pain is the most common but severe physical symptom among cancer patients. This study aimed to identify correlation between pain and psychological symptoms for terminal cancer patients. METHODS: The total sample consisted of 69 subjects who were recruited through two hospice wards, limited to patients who were mentally alert and had no psychiatric diseases. The subjects were divided into two groups according to the numerical rating scale: the pain-free group, 0 to 3 points; and the pain group, 4 to 10 points. We used the Beck depression inventory (BDI), Beck anxiety inventory (BAI), mini-mental status examination-Korea (MMSE-K), and short form 36 health survey (SF-36). Logistic regression analysis was performed to verify the correlation between pain and other psychosocial disorders. RESULTS: The mean scores of BDI in the pain-free and pain groups were 25.7 and 31.5; mean BAI scores were 23.4 and 34.7; mean MMSE-K scores were 25.7 and 21.8, respectively. There were no significant differences between the two groups in SF-36 score except scores of body pain. The results of logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, marital status, types of cancer, history of chemotherapy, or radiotherapy showed significant correlation between pain and depression (BDI > or = 24; odds ratio [OR], 4.199; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.171 to 15.060), and pain and cognitive impairment (MMSE < 24; OR, 5.495; 95% CI, 1.449 to 20.843); but not between pain and anxiety (BAI > or = 22; OR, 3.011; 95% CI, 0.907 to 9.997). CONCLUSION: Pain significantly affects depression and cognitive impairment among advanced cancer patients in the hospice ward. Accordingly, more aggressive treatment of pain is required to reduce not only physical suffering but also physiological distress.