Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and health-related quality of life and its association with social support in ambulatory prostate cancer patients

A Mehnert, C Lehmann, M Graefen, H Huland, U Koch
European Journal of Cancer Care 2010, 19 (6): 736-45
The aim of this study is to identify anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in prostate cancer patients and to investigate the association with social support and health-related quality of life. A total of 511 men who had undergone prostatectomy were surveyed during ambulatory follow-up care for an average of 27 months after surgery using standardised self-report measures (e.g. Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist--Civilian Version, Illness-Specific Social Support Scale, Short-Form Health Survey). Seventy-six per cent of patients evaluated their disease as 'not' or a 'little threatening'. The cancer diagnosis and uncertainty were most frequently reported as 'distressing', while medical treatment and doctor-patient interaction were most frequently evaluated as 'most helpful'. The number of patients reporting increased levels of psychological distress was 16%, with 6% demonstrating signs of having severe mental health problems'. No higher levels of anxiety and depression were observed in cancer patients compared with age-adjusted normative comparison groups. Lack of positive support, detrimental interactions and perceived threat of cancer were found to be predictors of psychological co-morbidity (P < 0.001). Lack of positive support, detrimental interactions, threat of cancer, disease stage and age significantly predicted mental health (P < 0.001), whereas the impact of social support on physical health was rather weak. Findings emphasise the need for routine psychosocial screening.

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