Mental health services underutilized by cancer patients

November 14, 2005

The prevalence of major psychiatric disorders is as common in cancer patients as they are in the general population, with the exception of panic disorder which had elevated rates compared to the general population (5 percent versus 1.7 percent, respectively). However, fewer than half of advanced cancer patients with major psychiatric complaints receive care from a mental health provider, according to a study published in the December 15, 2005 issue of CANCER (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/cancer-newsroom), a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. The study, one of the first to relate prevalence and use of mental health services and terminal cancer patients, suggests that Caucasian patients and patients who discuss their psychiatric complaints are more likely to receive care.

Cancer patients have several factors that contribute to emotional distress. Psychiatric disorders left untreated in terminal cancer patients have been demonstrated to worsen the quality of life in such areas as pain control and physical disability, adversely affect treatment compliance and shorten survival. Data suggest that the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in early stage cancer patients is far less than advanced stage cancer patients. However, the prevalence of psychiatric disease in the latter is poorly understood with estimates varying from 3 to 38 percent. In order to improve the quality of life in advanced cancer patients, researchers set out to understand the extent of the problem of psychiatric disease and how mental health services are being utilized.

First author, Nina S. Kadan-Lottick, M.D., M.S.P.H. of the Yale University School of Medicine and the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, CT, examined data from the Coping with Cancer (CWC) Study. The CWC is an NIH-funded multi-site longitudinal study of advanced cancer patients and caregivers (MH63892, CA106370; PI: H. Prigerson). Two hundred fifty-one patients with a diagnosis of advanced cancer were interviewed to determine the prevalence of major psychiatric disease, the frequency of discussion of emotional complaints with providers and referral to mental health services, and predictors of use of mental health services.

The authors found that about one in ten (12 percent) of 251 patients with advanced cancer met DSM-IV criteria for a current major psychiatric disorder - a prevalence rate similar to the general population. A little over one in four (28 percent) had received mental health treatment since being diagnosed with cancer, and about one in six (17 percent) had talked with a mental health provider. Conversely, more than half (55 percent) of advanced cancer patients with psychiatric complaints had not accessed mental health services. Factors that predicted use of mental health services included race (Caucasians in particular) and most importantly, patients who had discussed emotional complaints with staff.

"Our study," write the authors, "identified the underutilization of mental health services among advanced cancer patients." They conclude, "Discussion of mental health issues with a health care provider allows distress to be detected and is the most important predictor of whether services will be received."
-end-
Article: "Psychiatric Disorders and Mental Health Service Use in Patients with Advanced Cancer: A Report from the Coping with Cancer Study," Nina S. Kadan-Lottick, Lauren C. Vanderwerker, Susan D. Block, Baohui Zhang, Holly G. Prigerson, CANCER; Published Online: November 14, 2005 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.21532); Print Issue Date: December 15, 2005.

Wiley

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.