Home » News » Depression Interventions Help Cancer Patients

Depression Interventions Help Cancer Patients

Depression Interventions Help Cancer PatientsAlthough screening for depression among cancer patients seems to be a no-brainer, research results have been equivocal on the benefit of interventions.

Now, a new study finds that interventions, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacologic interventions, decrease depressive symptoms in cancer patients.

“In the past, we had looked at interventions as a whole — most of which were designed to help cancer patients cope generally with stress but not specifically with depression — and found moderate effects,” said Kristin Kilbourn, PhD., of the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

“This study shows not only that interventions specific to depression in cancer patients can improve symptoms, but shows which interventions are likely to offer the most benefit.”

Kilbourn and colleagues have published their findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In the study, investigators performed a meta-analysis of 10 studies encompassing 1362 patients.

It included high quality studies that met stringent criteria specifying that studies were randomized control trials in which cancer patients reported a significant number of depressive symptoms prior to starting the intervention.

“Still, many questions exist,” Kilbourn said. “For example, which interventions are best in early cancers versus metastatic disease? Do we find similar effectiveness if patients were diagnosed with depression before their cancer? And which interventions are most effective with different cultural and ethnic subpopulations?”

Kilbourn believes future research should explore the benefits of the interventions in more detail including documentation of the gains patients report and the duration of the improvements.

Finally, “This study supports the notion that screening for depression in cancer patients is important because if we could identify people early in the process and intervene, we now know definitively that we can affect the trajectory of this depression,” Kilbourn said.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Depression Interventions Help Cancer Patients

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). Depression Interventions Help Cancer Patients. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2018, from


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