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Depression Screening

By Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, OCN, FAAN
A few years ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggested that ample psychosocial resources are available to people with cancer; however, clinicians are not optimizing these resources. Researchers in Scotland examined data from 21,151 patients with breast, lung, colorectal, genitourinary, or GYN cancer who had participated in routine screening for depression between May 12, 2008, and Aug 24, 2011. Depression screening was done in two stages (completion of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale followed by the major depression section of the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition). Data from the depression screening were linked with demographic and clinical data obtained from the Scottish National Cancer Registry.

Major depression was highest in patients with lung cancer (13%), followed by GYN cancer (11%), breast cancer (9%), colorectal cancer (7%), and genitourinary cancer (6%). Within these groups, a diagnosis of major depression occurred more often among patients who were younger and had higher social isolation scores. Women with lung cancer and colorectal cancer also had higher rates of depression. Most importantly, the researchers found that 1,130 (73%) of 1,538 patients with diagnosed depression were not receiving potentially effective treatment, which supports the observations of the IOM.


Walter J et al. Prevalence, associations, and adequacy of treatment of major depression in patients with cancer: A cross-sectional analysis of routinely collected clinical data. Lancet Psychiatr 2014; DOI:10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70313-X.
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