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Cancer Patients Need Depression Screen

doctorAlthough it appears obvious that depression may accompany a diagnosis of cancer, a new report discovers many cancer patients are not screened for this mental disorder.

Researchers looked at data from the Roudebush VA Medical Center, where 95 percent of veterans in primary care are screened for depression.

In the study published in the November-December issue of General Hospital Psychiatry, Caroline Carney Doebbeling, M.D., M.Sc. and Laura Jones, Ph.D., report depression screening in cancer patients was not done nearly as frequently with, for example, only slightly over half of veterans with lung cancer receiving screening.

“In places without integrated care and mandated primary care depression screening like the VA, we speculate that screening rates are even worse,” said Dr. Carney Doebbeling, associate professor of medicine and of psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Lung cancer has one of the highest associations with depression of any cancer, according to Dr. Doebbeling, who is an internist and a psychiatrist. Many lung cancer patients have a history of smoking which has a strong association with depression and anxiety disorders.

“In any clinical setting, the cancer care provider needs to care for the patient’s mental as well as physical needs through the course of treatment. Once cancer develops, an individual who is depressed may be less likely to be adherent to their cancer therapy regimen as has been shown in other conditions like heart disease and diabetes. This issue has not yet been sufficiently studied in cancer yet,” says Dr. Carney Doebbeling.

“What is clear is that cancer patients treated for depression report a better quality of life during the course of treatment. This comes back around to the need to screen and recognize depression early on.”

Why do doctors fail to screen cancer patients for depression? “When doctors think their patients have a higher risk of mortality, depression screening is not as big a focus. Clinicians need to be made aware that depression screening is important even in end-stage cancer,” said Dr. Jones, who is with the Roudebush VA Medical Center’s Center of Excellence on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice and is a health services researcher.

Dr. Carney Doebbeling adds, “Cancer survivorship is an especially difficult experience if you are depressed. If we as clinicians don’t have long-term awareness of patients’ depression how can we expect them to do well through the course of their treatment and beyond, no matter how long they have post treatment”

Source: Indiana University

Cancer Patients Need Depression Screen

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Cancer Patients Need Depression Screen. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/12/11/cancer-patients-need-depression-screen/1642.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.