The Impact of Depression on Health Care Utilization in Patients with Cancer

Star Ye, Courtney P Williams, Aidan D Gilbert, Chao-Hui Huang, Terri L Salter, Gabrielle B Rocque
Journal of Palliative Medicine 2021 January 21
Background: Depression is common in the oncology patient population. Little data exist on the impact of depression on health care utilization. Objectives: We evaluated the prevalence of depression and the relationship between depression and health care utilization in patients with cancer. Design: This cross-sectional study utilized patient-reported outcome data from predominately Medicare beneficiaries with cancer. We examined the emergency department visits and inpatient admissions within 3 months from survey. The relationship between depression and hospital visits was assessed using generalized linear models. Results: Of 1038 patients included in the study, 13% had moderate to severe depression. In adjusted models, patients with moderate or severe depression trended toward increased risk of hospitalizations compared with patients without depression (risk ratio: 1.25, 95% confidence interval: 0.97-1.62). Conclusions: Clinically significant depression is not uncommon in cancer patients. Further research is needed evaluating the relationship between depression, health care utilization, and early psychiatric intervention in oncology.

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