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Depression In Patients With Lung Cancer: Prevalence And Risk Factors Derived From Quality-of-Life Data

Penelope Hopwood, Richard J. Stephens,

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PURPOSE: To evaluate self-reported depression rates in patients with inoperable lung cancer and to explore demographic, clinical, and quality-of-life (QOL) factors associated with depression and thus identify patients at risk. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Nine hundred eighty-seven patients from three palliative treatment trials conducted by the Medical Research Council Lung Cancer Working Party formed the study sample. 526 patients (53%) had poor prognosis small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and 461 patients (47%) had good prognosis non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale data and QOL items from the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist were analyzed, together with relevant demographic and clinical factors. RESULTS: Depression was self-rated in 322 patients (33%) before treatment and persisted in more than 50% of patients. SCLC patients had a three-fold greater prevalence of case depression than those with NSCLC (25% v 9%; P < .0001). An increased rate for women was found for good performance status (PS) patients (PS of 0 or 1) but the sex difference reduced for poor PS patients (PS of 3 or 4) because of increased depression rates for men (χ2 for trend, P < .0001). Multivariate analysis showed that functional impairment was the most important risk factor; depression increased by 41% for each increment on the impairment scale. Pretreatment physical symptom burden, fatigue, and clinician-rated PS were also independent predictors, but cell type was not. CONCLUSION: Depression is common and persistent in lung cancer patients, especially those with more severe symptoms or functional limitations. Psychologic screening and appropriate intervention is an essential part of palliative care.