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1.  The chronology of distress, anxiety, and depression in older prostate cancer patients 
The oncologist  2009;14(9):891-899.
Current research suggests that older cancer patients report less distress compared to younger cancer patients. However, this research has generally not teased apart the differences between general distress, anxiety, and depression.
We conducted a secondary analysis of merged datasets using cross-sectional data on 736 men with prostate cancer (Mean Age 68±10 years of age, range 50 to 93). Approximately half the participants were recruited from doctors’ offices throughout the United States and the other half from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York, NY). Participants were asked to complete the Distress Thermometer, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the FACT-P Quality of Life questionnaire, and a demographic questionnaire.
Aging was related to reduced distress (r=−0.14), less anxiety (r=−0.22), and increased emotional quality of life (r= 0.16). In contrast, aging was associated with greater depressive symptoms in these cancer patients (r= 0.18). The mean depression scores of 5-year cohorts consistently trended upward. The significant association between age and depression remained after controlling for stage of disease, hormone therapy use, time since diagnosis, and social, physical and functional well-being.
Despite theoretical and empirical evidence that older cancer patients may cope more effectively than younger cancer patients, depressive symptoms remain an important concern for aging cancer patients and greater attention to this area is warranted. The increase in depression is in contrast to some findings in the general aging literature, raising the possibility that this trend is unique to older cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC2881474  PMID: 19738000
Psychological distress; Depression; Anxiety; Prostate Cancer; Aging
2.  The association between malnutrition and psychological distress in patients with advanced head-and-neck cancer 
Current Oncology  2013;20(6):e554-e560.
Malnutrition and psychological distress are often seen in patients with head-and-neck cancer, but little is known about the interrelationships between those two symptoms. The present study examined the relationship between malnutrition and psychological distress in patients with advanced head-and-neck cancer.
Using the Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment, 99 patients with advanced-stage head-and-neck cancer were screened for nutrition status. The patients were also screened for psychosocial distress (using the Distress Thermometer) and for psychosocial issues (using the Problem Checklist). Any relationship between malnutrition and psychosocial distress was determined by regression and correlation analysis. We also used t-tests to compare distress levels for patients with and without specific nutrition-related symptoms.
The study group included 80 men and 19 women [mean age: 58.4 ± 10.9 years (range: 23–85 years)]. The correlation between poorer nutrition status and level of psychological distress was significant r = 0.37 (p < 0.001). Specifically, reduced food intake and symptoms were both positively associated with distress: r = 0.27 and r = 0.29 respectively, both significant at p < 0.01. After controlling for the effects of psychosocial problems and pain, nutrition status remained a significant predictor of distress, explaining 3.8% of the variance in the distress scores of the patients (p < 0.05).
Malnutrition and symptoms were strongly related to distress in patients with advanced head-and-neck cancer. Our results suggest the need for further research into the complex relationship between nutrition status and distress and into the management of both nutrition and distress in cancer care.
PMCID: PMC3851352  PMID: 24311956
Head-and-neck cancer; late effects; psychological distress; malnutrition; screening; symptoms
3.  Sensitivity and specificity of the Distress Thermometer for depression in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients 
Psycho-oncology  2008;17(6):556-560.
Receiving a new diagnosis of breast cancer is a distressing experience that may precipitate an episode of major depressive disorder. Efficient screening methods for detecting depression in the oncology setting are needed. This study evaluated the receiver operating characteristics (ROC) of the single-item Distress Thermometer (DT) for detecting depression in women newly diagnosed with Stage I–III breast cancer.
We assessed 321 patients (of 345 consecutive patients) at the time of their pre-surgical consultation at a Comprehensive Breast Cancer Program. Patients were administered the DT along with the Patient Health Questionnaire 9-Item Depression Module (PHQ-9) as a gold standard diagnostic assessment of depression status.
Mean DT scores (11-point scale, 0–10) were significantly higher for depressed versus non-depressed patients (8.1 versus 4.4). In ROC analyses the DT showed strong discriminatory power relative to the PHQ-9-derived diagnosis of depression, with an area under the curve of 0.87. Patient age, education, marital status and stage of disease resulted in similar operating characteristics. A score of 7 represented the optimal trade-off between sensitivity (0.81) and specificity (0.85) characteristics for detecting depression.
The single-item DT performs satisfactorily relative to the PHQ-9 for detecting depression in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. A cutoff score of 7 on the DT possesses the optimal sensitivity and specificity characteristics. The strength of these findings suggests that a careful psychosocial evaluation should follow a positive screen.
PMCID: PMC3806281  PMID: 17957755
medical oncology; breast neoplasms; depression; sensitivity and specificity; psychological tests
4.  Acceptability of the Distress Thermometer and Problem List to community-based telephone cancer helpline operators, and to cancer patients and carers 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:46.
Cancer can be a distressing experience for cancer patients and carers, impacting on psychological, social, physical and spiritual functioning. However, health professionals often fail to detect distress in their patients due to time constraints and a lack of experience. Also, with the focus on the patient, carer needs are often overlooked. This study investigated the acceptability of brief distress screening with the Distress Thermometer (DT) and Problem List (PL) to operators of a community-based telephone helpline, as well as to cancer patients and carers calling the service.
Operators (n = 18) monitored usage of the DT and PL with callers (cancer patients/carers, >18 years, and English-speaking) from September-December 2006 (n = 666). The DT is a single item, 11-point scale to rate level of distress. The associated PL identifies the cause of distress.
The DT and PL were used on 90% of eligible callers, most providing valid responses. Benefits included having an objective, structured and consistent means for distress screening and triage to supportive care services. Reported challenges included apparent inappropriateness of the tools due to the nature of the call or level of caller distress, the DT numeric scale, and the level of operator training.
We observed positive outcomes to using the DT and PL, although operators reported some challenges. Overcoming these challenges may improve distress screening particularly by less experienced clinicians, and further development of the PL items and DT scale may assist with administration. The DT and PL allow clinicians to direct/prioritise interventions or referrals, although ongoing training and support is critical in distress screening.
PMCID: PMC3040161  PMID: 21281476
5.  Receiving Palliative Treatment Moderates the Effect of Age and Gender on Demoralization in Patients with Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59417.
Existential distress is an important factor affecting psychological well-being in cancer patients. We studied occurrence and predictors of demoralization, a syndrome of existential distress, in particular the interaction of age, gender, and curative vs. palliative treatment phase.
A cross-sectional sample of N = 750 patients with different tumor sites was recruited from in- and outpatient treatment facilities. Patients completed the following self-report questionnaires: Demoralization Scale, Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Illness-Specific Social Support Scale Short Version-8, and physical problems list of the NCCN Distress Thermometer. Moderated multiple regression analyses were conducted.
We found high demoralization in 15% and moderate demoralization in 8% of the sample. Curative vs. palliative treatment phase moderated the impact of age and gender on demoralization (three-way interaction: b = 1.30, P = .02): the effect of age on demoralization was negative for women receiving palliative treatment (b = −.26, P = .02) and positive for men receiving palliative treatment (b = .25, P = .03). Effects of age and gender were not significant among patients receiving curative treatment. Female gender was associated with higher demoralization among younger patients receiving palliative treatment only. Analyses were controlled for significant effects of the number of physical problems (b = 6.10, P<.001) and social support (b = −3.17, P<.001).
Existential distress in terms of demoralization is a relevant problem within the spectrum of cancer-related distress. It is associated with a complex interaction of demographic and medical patient characteristics; existential challenges related to palliative treatment may exacerbate the impact of age- and gender-related vulnerability factors on demoralization. Psychosocial interventions should acknowledge this interaction in order to address the individual nature of existential distress in subgroups of cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3598752  PMID: 23555030
6.  Sensitivity and specificity of the Distress Thermometer in screening for distress in long-term nasopharyngeal cancer survivors 
Current Oncology  2013;20(6):e570-e576.
The Distress Thermometer (dt) is a screening tool recommended to quickly identify cancer patients with distress. Our study aimed to examine the sensitivity and specificity of the dt in detecting psychological distress in long-term Chinese nasopharyngeal cancer (npc) survivors.
Data for the 442 participating npc survivors were collected through a self-administered questionnaire based on the dt and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (hads). The hads was used to define cases of psychological distress. Positive and negative groups were defined based on 4 hads criteria (Anxiety, Depression, Anxiety or Depression, and overall score). Receiver operating characteristic (roc) curves were used to examine the ability of all possible cut-off values of the dt to detect positive and negative cases. For each roc curve, the area under the curve (auc) was used as an indicator of the overall accuracy of the dt to identify positive cases of distress.
The positive auc values [with 95% confidence intervals (ci)] for the 4 hads criteria were 0.715 (95% ci: 0.667 to 0.764), 0.714 (95% ci: 0.661 to 0.768), 0.724 (95% ci: 0.677 to 0.771), and 0.724 (95% ci: 0.664 to 0.775) respectively. At a cut-off score of 4, the sensitivity of the dt to the four hads criteria was, respectively, 0.366 (95% ci: 0.296 to 0.436), 0.448 (95% ci: 0.364 to 0.532), 0.362 (95% ci: 0.299 to 0.425), and 0.421 (95% ci: 0.339 to 0.502), and the specificity of the dt to the 4 hads criteria was, respectively, 0.860 (95% ci: 0.818 to 0.902), 0.860 (95% ci: 0.821 to 0.899), 0.854 (95% ci: 0.814 to 0.894), and 0.854 (95% ci: 0.814 to 0.894). At a cut-off score of 5, the corresponding sensitivities were lower than those at the cut-off score of 4. All potential cut-off scores showed poor sensitivity (<0.90).
The roc analysis showed poor discrimination. No potential dt cut-off score had an acceptable sensitivity. The dt showed poor sensitivity in npc survivors. Thus, the dt might not be a valid scale for psychological distress screening in long-term Chinese npc survivors.
PMCID: PMC3851354  PMID: 24311958
Distress; nasopharyngeal cancer survivors; validity; Distress Thermometer
7.  Screening for psychological distress in patients with lung cancer: results of a clinical audit evaluating the use of the patient Distress Thermometer 
Supportive Care in Cancer  2010;19(2):193-202.
Patients with lung cancer frequently suffer psychological distress and guidelines in the United Kingdom recommend screening of all cancer patients for this problem. The audit investigated use of the Distress Thermometer in terms of staff adherence to locally developed guidelines, patient willingness to use the tool, its impact on referral rates to clinical psychology services and concordance between the tool and the clinical assessment.
Use of the Distress Thermometer was audited over a 3-month period in one lung cancer outpatient clinic. Referrals to clinical psychology services in response to clearly delineated referral indicators were assessed. Patient-reported outcomes were compared with practitioner assessment of need during clinical consultations to see whether the tool was measuring distress effectively.
Thirty three of 34 patients used the Distress Thermometer during the audit period. Ten reported distress levels above 4 in the emotional or family problems domains. On ten occasions, the clinical interview identified problems not elicited by the Distress Thermometer. Guidelines were adhered to by staff, and patients were offered information about local support services and referral to clinical psychology services where indicated. Whilst all patients were happy to receive written information about further sources of support, none wanted to be referred to psychological services at that time.
The Distress Thermometer is acceptable to patients with lung cancer in outpatient settings but it did not increase referrals for psychological support. Staff found it to be a useful tool in opening up communication about patient issues although it should not replace a comprehensive clinical interview.
PMCID: PMC3016098  PMID: 20069436
Lung cancer; Psychological screening; Distress Thermometer; Clinical audit
8.  An Examination of Distress, Sleep, and Fatigue in Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients 
Psycho-oncology  2010;21(1):100-107.
Few studies have used rapid screening instruments to document the prevalence of distress among metastatic breast cancer patients. This study used the one-item Distress Thermometer (DT) to assess distress in this population. Anxiety and depressive symptoms, sleep problems, fatigue, and mental health service use were assessed for patients who met the cutoff on the DT for probable distress (score ≥ 4).
A total of 173 metastatic breast cancer patients rated their distress on the DT. Respondents who met study eligibility criteria (n = 90), including a score > 4 on the DT, completed a telephone survey one week later that assessed anxiety, depressive symptoms, sleep problems, and fatigue. Associations of study outcomes with demographic and medical characteristics were computed.
Sixty percent of the 173 patients met the cutoff for probable distress on the DT. Meeting this cutoff was not associated with age, ethnicity, time since diagnosis, or medical treatments. The majority (61%) of respondents who were classified as distressed on the DT reported clinically significant anxiety or depressive symptoms one week later. On average, these patients also showed significant fatigue and sleep disturbance, with 70% reporting decrements in sleep quality. Only 29% of patients with significant anxiety or depressive symptoms accessed mental health services.
Results point to a high prevalence of distress, sleep problems, and fatigue across demographic and medical subgroups of metastatic breast cancer patients. A rapid one-item screening tool may be used to identify patients with a potential need for psychosocial assessment and intervention.
PMCID: PMC3756885  PMID: 21105175
metastatic breast cancer; oncology; sleep; fatigue; psychological distress; mental health services
9.  Distress, anxiety, and depression in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy 
Chemotherapy for cancer is an intense and cyclic treatment associated with number of side-effects. The present study evaluated the effect of chemotherapy on distress, anxiety and depression.
Patients and methods
A total of 117 patients were evaluated by using distress inventory for cancer (DIC2) and hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS). Majority of the patients were taking chemotherapy for solid tumors (52; 44.4%).
The mean distress score was 24, 18 (15.38%) were found to have anxiety while 19 (16.23%) had depression. High social status was the only factor found to influence distress while female gender was the only factor found to influence depression in the present study.
The study highlights high psychological morbidity of cancer patients and influence of gender on depression. Construct of distress as evaluated by DIC 2 may have a possible overlap with anxiety.
PMCID: PMC1592486  PMID: 17002797
10.  Alexithymia, anger and psychological distress in patients with myofascial pain: a case-control study 
Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate psychological distress, anger and alexithymia in a group of patients affected by myofascial pain (MP) in the facial region.
Methods: 45 MP patients [mean (SD) age: 38.9 (11.6)] and 45 female healthy controls [mean (SD) age: 37.8 (13.7)] were assessed medically and psychologically. The medically evaluation consisted of muscle palpation of the pericranial and cervical muscles. The psychological evaluation included the assessment of depression (Beck Depression Inventory—short form), anxiety [State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Form Y (STAI-Y)], emotional distress [Distress Thermometer (DT)], anger [State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory—2 (STAXI-2)], and alexithymia [Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS)].
Results: the MP patients showed significantly higher scores in the depression, anxiety and emotional distress inventories. With regard to anger, only the Anger Expression-In scale showed a significant difference between the groups, with higher scores for the MP patients. In addition, the MP patients showed significantly higher alexithymic scores, in particular in the Difficulty in identifying feelings (F1) subscale of the TAS-20. Alexithymia was positively correlated with the Anger Expression-In scale. Both anger and alexithymia showed significant positive correlations with anxiety scores, but only anger was positively correlated with depression.
Conclusion: A higher prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms associated with a higher prevalence of alexithymia and expression-in modality to cope with anger was found in the MP patients. Because the presence of such psychological aspects could contribute to generate or exacerbate the suffering of these patients, our results highlight the need to include accurate investigation of psychological aspects in MP patients in normal clinical practice in order to allow clinicians to carry out more efficacious management and treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC3728491  PMID: 23914181
myofascial facial pain; anxiety; depression; anger; alexithymia
11.  Prevalence and Risk Factors of Depression in Geriatric Patients with Dermatological Diseases 
Annals of Dermatology  2013;25(3):278-284.
Although rarely life threatening, dermatological diseases may have a considerable influence on a patient's quality of life and psychological well-being. As with morbidity and mental distress from other chronic diseases, a skin disorder can be the one of the main causes of depression in the geriatric population.
To determine the prevalence of depression in elderly patients with dermatological disease in Korea and to identify factors associated with depression.
Patients over the age of 60 years with dermatologic diseases were solicited for a questionnaire survey. The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) was used to obtain a patient-based measurement of depression. Additionally, demographic information and medical history were collected.
The questionnaire was completed by 313 patients (39.94% men, mean age 69.04 years, mean disease duration 3.23 years). Dermatological disease overall had a significant effect on patients' depression (χ2=177.13, p<0.0001), with a mean GDS score of 12.35 (out of 30). The patients who had a GDS score greater than 10 was 62.3% which indicated increased prevalence of mild to severe depression when compared to the general population among whom only 22.22% percent have GDS score greater than 10. In the univariate analysis, physical health, education level, and the presence of concurrent diseases were risk factors for geriatric depression. However, we did not find any demographic or disease related variables that were independent predictors of depression.
Geriatric patients with dermatological disease experience an increase burden of depression. Thus, it is important for clinicians to evaluate geriatric patients with dermatologic diseases for depression.
PMCID: PMC3756190  PMID: 24003268
Depression; Geriatric population; Skin disorder
Psycho-oncology  2006;15(10):898-910.
The long-term psychological impact of pediatric sarcoma is largely unknown. As part of a cross-sectional study examining the late effects of pediatric sarcoma therapy, we examined whether psychological distress or posttraumatic stress symptoms are present in an adult cohort of pediatric sarcoma survivors.
Thirty-four patients participated in the study, an average of 17 years after their treatment ended, each completing the SCID module for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Impact of Events Scale, Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and a questionnaire assessing sociodemographic variables and psychosocial issues.
Significant persistent psychological distress characterized this cohort of patients. Seventy-seven percent scored in the clinical range on the BSI. Twelve percent met diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Current psychological distress was associated with intrusive thoughts and avoidant behaviors, male gender, employment, difficulty readjusting to work/school after treatment, and enduring worries about health. No differences were found based on age, presence of metastatic disease or time since diagnosis.
This is the first report of a clinical evaluation of psychological distress in a cohort of pediatric sarcoma survivors treated with intensive multimodal cancer therapy. The results suggest that survivors of pediatric sarcoma might be at high risk for adverse psychological outcomes. Appropriate interventions are proposed.
PMCID: PMC2289870  PMID: 16402373
psychological distress; posttraumatic stress; pediatric sarcoma; long-term survivors; intensive treatment; cancer; oncology
13.  Implementing a Geriatric Assessment in Cooperative Group Clinical Cancer Trials: CALGB 360401 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(10):1290-1296.
Factors captured in a geriatric assessment can predict morbidity and mortality in older adults, but are not routinely measured in cancer clinical trials. This study evaluated the implementation of a geriatric assessment tool in the cooperative group setting.
Patients and Methods
Patients age ≥ 65 with cancer, who enrolled on cooperative group cancer trials, were eligible to enroll on Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) 360401. They completed a geriatric assessment tool before initiation of protocol therapy, consisting of valid and reliable geriatric assessment measures which are primarily self-administered and require minimal resources and time by healthcare providers. The assessment measures functional status, comorbidity, cognitive function, psychological state, social support, and nutritional status. The protocol specified criteria for incorporation of the tool in future cooperative group trials was based on the time to completion and percent of patients who could complete their portion without assistance. Patient satisfaction with the tool was captured.
Of the 93 patients who enrolled in this study, five (5%) met criteria for cognitive impairment and three did not complete the cognitive screen, leaving 85 assessable patients (median age, 72 years). The median time to complete the geriatric assessment tool was 22 minutes, 87% of patients (n = 74) completed their portion without assistance, 92% (n = 78) were satisfied with the questionnaire length, 95% (n = 81) reported no difficult questions, and 96% (n = 82) reported no upsetting questions. One hundred percent of health care professionals completed their portion.
This brief, primarily self-administered geriatric assessment tool met the protocol specified criteria for inclusion in future cooperative group clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3083997  PMID: 21357782
14.  Predicting Chemotherapy Toxicity in Older Adults With Cancer: A Prospective Multicenter Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2011;29(25):3457-3465.
Older adults are vulnerable to chemotherapy toxicity; however, there are limited data to identify those at risk. The goals of this study are to identify risk factors for chemotherapy toxicity in older adults and develop a risk stratification schema for chemotherapy toxicity.
Patients and Methods
Patients age ≥ 65 years with cancer from seven institutions completed a prechemotherapy assessment that captured sociodemographics, tumor/treatment variables, laboratory test results, and geriatric assessment variables (function, comorbidity, cognition, psychological state, social activity/support, and nutritional status). Patients were followed through the chemotherapy course to capture grade 3 (severe), grade 4 (life-threatening or disabling), and grade 5 (death) as defined by the National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events.
In total, 500 patients with a mean age of 73 years (range, 65 to 91 years) with stage I to IV lung (29%), GI (27%), gynecologic (17%), breast (11%), genitourinary (10%), or other (6%) cancer joined this prospective study. Grade 3 to 5 toxicity occurred in 53% of the patients (39% grade 3, 12% grade 4, 2% grade 5). A predictive model for grade 3 to 5 toxicity was developed that consisted of geriatric assessment variables, laboratory test values, and patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics. A scoring system in which the median risk score was 7 (range, 0 to 19) and risk stratification schema (risk score: percent incidence of grade 3 to 5 toxicity) identified older adults at low (0 to 5 points; 30%), intermediate (6 to 9 points; 52%), or high risk (10 to 19 points; 83%) of chemotherapy toxicity (P < .001).
A risk stratification schema can establish the risk of chemotherapy toxicity in older adults. Geriatric assessment variables independently predicted the risk of toxicity.
PMCID: PMC3624700  PMID: 21810685
15.  Distress Screening in a Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic: Prevalence and Predictors of Clinically-Significant Distress 
Screening for distress in cancer patients is recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and a Distress Thermometer has previously been developed and empirically-validated for this purpose. The present study sought to determine the rates and predictors of distress in a sample of patients being seen in a multidisciplinary lung cancer clinic. Consecutive patients (N = 333) were recruited from an outpatient multidisciplinary lung cancer clinic to complete the Distress Thermometer, an associated Problem Symptom List, and two questions about interest in receiving help for symptoms. Over half (61.6%) of patients reported distress at a clinically significant level, and 22.5% of patients indicated interest in receiving help with their distress and/or symptoms. Problems in the areas of family relationships, emotional functioning, lack of information about diagnosis/treatment, physical functioning, and cognitive functioning were associated with higher reports of distress. Specific symptoms of depression, anxiety, pain and fatigue were most predictive of distress. Younger age was also associated with higher levels of distress. Distress was not associated with other clinical variables, including stage of illness or medical treatment approach. Similar results were obtained when individuals who had not yet received a definitive diagnosis of lung cancer (n = 134) were excluded from analyses; however, family problems and anxiety were no longer predictive of distress. Screening for distress in a multidisciplinary lung cancer clinic is feasible and a significant number of patients can be expected to meet clinical criteria for distress. Results also highlight younger age and specific physical and psychosocial symptoms as predictive of clinically-significant distress. Identification of the presence and predictors of distress are the first steps toward appropriate referral and treatment of symptoms and problems that contribute to cancer patients’ distress.
PMCID: PMC1857305  PMID: 17084483
psychological distress; screening; lung cancer; Distress Thermometer; predictors
16.  The Feasibility of Inpatient Geriatric Assessment for Older Adults Receiving Induction Chemotherapy for Acute Myelogenous Leukemia 
To test the feasibility and utility of a bedside geriatric assessment (GA) to detect impairment in multiple geriatric domains in older adults initiating chemotherapy for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).
Prospective observational cohort study.
Single academic institution.
Individuals aged 60 and older with newly diagnosed AML and planned chemotherapy.
Bedside GA was performed during inpatient exmination for AML. GA measures included the modified Mini-Mental State Examination; Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale; Distress Thermometer, Pepper Assessment Tool for Disability (includes self- reported activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental ADLs, and mobility questions); Short Physical Performance Battery (includes timed 4-m walk, chair stands, standing balance); grip strength, and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Comorbidity Index.
Of 54 participants (mean age 70.8 ± 6.4) eligible for this analysis, 92.6% completed the entire GA battery (mean time 44.0 ± 14 minutes). The following impairments were detected: cognitive impairment, 31.5%; depression, 38.9%; distress, 53.7%; impairment in ADLs, 48.2%; impaired physical performance, 53.7%; and comorbidity, 46.3%. Most were impaired in one (92.6%) or more (63%) functional domains. For the 38 participants rated as having good performance status according to standard oncologic assessment (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Performance Scale score ≤1), impairments in individual GA measures ranged from 23.7% to 50%. Significant variability in cognitive, emotional, and physical status was detected even after stratification according to tumor biology (cytogenetic risk group classification).
Inpatient GA was feasible and added new information to standard oncology assessment, which may be important for stratifying therapeutic risk in older adults with AML.
PMCID: PMC3782375  PMID: 22091497
geriatric assessment; acute myelogenous leukemia; cancer; functional status; elderly
17.  Psychiatric morbidity and its recognition by doctors in patients with cancer 
British Journal of Cancer  2001;84(8):1011-1015.
Psychiatric morbidity in patients with cancer is high and without appropriate treatment unremitting. We assessed the ability of 143 doctors to establish the psychological status of 2297 patients during outpatient consultations in 34 cancer centres and hospitals in the UK. Prior to seeing the doctor, consenting patients completed a short self-report questionnaire (GHQ12), designed for the psychological screening of large populations. At the end of the consultation, doctors completed visual analogue scales rating patients' distress. 837/2297 (36.4%) patients had GHQ scores suggestive of psychiatric morbidity. The doctors' sensitivity (true positive rate) was 28.87% (SD 25.29), specificity (true negative rate) 84.79% (SD 17.44). The misclassification rate was 34.7% (SD 13.79) meaning that for 797 patients the wrong assessment was probably made. These data show that much of the probable psychiatric morbidity experienced by patients with cancer goes unrecognized and therefore untreated. Doctors need communication skills training to elicit problems during consultations. Appropriate referrals to psychological services are necessary when patients requiring help are identified and ought to be an integral part of cancer care. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2363864  PMID: 11308246
detection of psychiatric morbidity; communication
18.  Feasibility of brief psychological distress screening by a community-based telephone helpline for cancer patients and carers 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:14.
Up to one-third of people affected by cancer experience ongoing psychological distress and would benefit from screening followed by an appropriate level of psychological intervention. This rarely occurs in routine clinical practice due to barriers such as lack of time and experience. This study investigated the feasibility of community-based telephone helpline operators screening callers affected by cancer for their level of distress using a brief screening tool (Distress Thermometer), and triaging to the appropriate level of care using a tiered model.
Consecutive cancer patients and carers who contacted the helpline from September-December 2006 (n = 341) were invited to participate. Routine screening and triage was conducted by helpline operators at this time. Additional socio-demographic and psychosocial adjustment data were collected by telephone interview by research staff following the initial call.
The Distress Thermometer had good overall accuracy in detecting general psychosocial morbidity (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale cut-off score ≥ 15) for cancer patients (AUC = 0.73) and carers (AUC = 0.70). We found 73% of participants met the Distress Thermometer cut-off for distress caseness according to the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (a score ≥ 4), and optimal sensitivity (83%, 77%) and specificity (51%, 48%) were obtained with cut-offs of ≥ 4 and ≥ 6 in the patient and carer groups respectively. Distress was significantly associated with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale scores (total, as well as anxiety and depression subscales) and level of care in cancer patients, as well as with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety subscale for carers. There was a trend for more highly distressed callers to be triaged to more intensive care, with patients with distress scores ≥ 4 more likely to receive extended or specialist care.
Our data suggest that it was feasible for community-based cancer helpline operators to screen callers for distress using a brief screening tool, the Distress Thermometer, and to triage callers to an appropriate level of care using a tiered model. The Distress Thermometer is a rapid and non-invasive alternative to longer psychometric instruments, and may provide part of the solution in ensuring distressed patients and carers affected by cancer are identified and supported appropriately.
PMCID: PMC2826295  PMID: 20067645
19.  Discrepancy in patient-rated and oncologist-rated performance status on depression and anxiety in cancer: a prospective study protocol 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001799.
Psychological distress is common in patients with cancer. We need a rapid means of screening for and identifying depression and anxiety in patients with cancer. The present study evaluates the potential of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) scoring as a brief screening tool to assess psychological distress in routine cancer care. The ECOG PS is widely used by oncologists and the WHO, as a standardised measure to assess general well-being in patients with cancer and quality of life in cancer trials. We examine the discrepancy between patient-rated and oncologist-rated PS scores on the ECOG in a comparative assessment against the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).
Methods and design
This is a prospective evaluation of approximately 500 ambulatory adult cancer patients from a large academic medical centre. Participants will be asked to assess their own ECOG PS on a scale of 0–4, which will be compared to ECOG PS as rated by their oncologists. Higher ECOG PS scores indicate poorer daily functioning. Both patient-rated and oncologist-rated ECOG PS and their absolute differences will be tested for predictive and concurrent validity against the HADS. A HADS cut-off ≥15 will be used. Ethics approval for this study has been secured from the institutional ethics board. Outcomes are re-evaluated at 4-week to 6-week and 1-year follow-up.
This study holds practical significance for rapid screening of psychological distress in the cancer clinic with the use of the ECOG PS scoring. Given the high prevalence of anxiety and depression in patients with cancer, screening is important to increase its recognition, which will, in turn, help to direct referrals and deliver appropriate intervention. This study also generates greater insight into the association between psychosomatic complaints and psychological distress.
Trial registration number
MEC 896.52.
PMCID: PMC3488734  PMID: 23035016
Mental Health; Oncology
20.  Cognitive behaviour therapy for fatigued cancer survivors: long-term follow-up 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;97(5):612-618.
An earlier randomised-controlled trial demonstrated the positive effects of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), especially designed for fatigued cancer survivors in reducing fatigue, functional impairments and psychological distress. In the current prospective study, we were able to examine the long-term effect of CBT in patients who completed the therapy. Predictors of fatigue severity at follow-up were exploratory investigated. Sixty-eight patients who completed CBT were assessed at pretreatment, post-treatment and at follow-up (mean follow-up 1.9 years (s.d. 1.0), range: 1–4 years). To analyse possible predictors of treatment outcome a linear regression (enter) was carried out. Improvements on fatigue severity, functional impairment and psychological distress after CBT appeared to remain stable during a follow-up period. Patients who were not fatigued anymore at follow-up were not different from a reference group of non-fatigued cancer survivors. The explorative regression analysis showed that fatigue severity, psychological distress and somatic attributions at pretreatment contributed to persistent fatigue severity at follow-up. Cognitive behaviour therapy, especially designed for post-cancer fatigue, is successful in reducing fatigue and functional impairment in cancer survivors. Moreover, these positive effects were maintained at about 2 years after finishing CBT.
PMCID: PMC2360364  PMID: 17653075
cancer survivors; cognitive behaviour therapy; fatigue; intervention; long-term effect; post-cancer fatigue
21.  Social network disruption as a major factor associated with psychological distress 3 years after the 2004 Niigata–Chuetsu earthquake in Japan 
The 2004 Niigata–Chuetsu earthquake of Japan caused a great deal of damage, and people living in the affected region are still struggling to reconstruct their lives. The aim of this study was to determine factors associated with psychological distress in people living in a town at the epicenter 3 years after the earthquake.
We conducted a cross-sectional study from June 2007 to January 2008. Participants included 225 individuals living in Kawaguchi (age ≥20 years) who reported psychological symptoms. Information on family structure, employment status, alcohol use, social network, and extent of house damage was elicited by public health nurses conducting structured interviews. Levels of psychological distress were assessed with the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), with a K10 score ≥25 defined as psychological distress.
The mean age of participants was 66.1 ± 12.9 years. The prevalence of psychological distress varied among different employment classes, being 5/73 (6.8%) for participants with paid employment, 12/50 (24.0%) for full-time housewives, and 11/101 (10.9%) for those who were unemployed (χ2 = 8.42, P = 0.015). It also varied between participants who had lost contact with people in the community and those who had no change in social contact [9/20 (45.0%) vs. 19/189 (10.1%), respectively; χ2 = 19.04, P < 0.001]. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that age [odds ratio (OR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.91–0.98], poor or loss of contact with people in the community (OR 6.97, 95% CI 1.85–26.2), and lack of employment (full-time housewives or unemployed individuals) (OR 6.74, 95% CI 1.62–28.0) were associated with psychological distress.
People who lose their social network are at a very high risk for post-earthquake psychological distress and require appropriate care.
PMCID: PMC3342634  PMID: 21710149
Cross-sectional studies; Earthquakes; Mental health; Psychological distress; Social support; Medicine & Public Health; Occupational Medicine/Industrial Medicine; Environmental Health; Public Health/Gesundheitswesen; Medicine/Public Health, general; Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
22.  Patient-Centered Research Abstracts 
Psychiatric morbidity is common in heart patients after a myocardial infarction (MI) or coronary revascularization procedure (CRP). Common expressions of psychiatric morbidity including depression, hopelessness, distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder have increasingly drawn attention as negative prognostic indicators for heart patients.
To investigate psychological distress as a predictor of subsequent cardiac-related events in patients with a prior CRP.
Married patients who experienced a CRP (either balloon angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery) and their spouses were surveyed within a year of the patient's CRP.
250 CRP patients (212 men, 38 women) and their spouses completed the Michigan Family Heart Questionnaire and the COPE which assessed a wide range of psychosocial variables including patient and spouse distress, coping, spouse support, and demographic variables. Cardiovascular-related outcome data (cardiovascular events which included subsequent hospital admissions, MI, CRP, or death) were analyzed.
A large proportion of patients (41%) were found to have high distress levels, defined by a score which met the criteria for a clinical diagnosis, and were significantly more likely (t = 2.3, p < .025) to have a subsequent cardiovascular event. High distress as compared to low distress patients had a relative risk of 1.86 for a subsequent cardiovascular event.
This study demonstrates that elevated distress is common in CRP patients and confers an increased risk for cardiovascular events. Interventions that prevent or reduce psychological distress may be effective in reducing recurrent cardiac events.
PMCID: PMC1495767
23.  Psychological status and diabetes-related distress of Chinese type 1 diabetes patients in Jiangsu province, China 
Journal of Biomedical Research  2013;27(5):380-385.
We sought to assess the psychological status and diabetes-related distress of Chinese type 1 diabetes patients in Jiangsu province, China. According to the World Health Organization criteria, 42 patients with type 1 diabetes were enrolled in the study and assessed with the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS), Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) and Diabetes Distress Scale (DDS). All data were tabulated and statistical analyses were performed. The study summarized cases of 42 patients with type 1 diabetes, including 17 males and 25 females with a mean age of 23±12 years and a mean duration of diabetes of 7±6 years. Compared to the Chinese normative data, the SAS standard score was significantly higher, whereas SDS standard score had no statistical significance. The SAS standard score was most highly correlated with diabetes duration (γ = 0.547, P = 0.011). Additionally, 19.5% of the patients had moderate or even severe diabetes-related distress and 21.4% had moderate or even severe emotional burden while 26.2% had regimen-related distress. Multiple stepwise regression analysis showed that the mean correlation between DDS and the four domains was high, particularly the emotional burden domain (estimated β = 0.363, P < 0.001) and regimen-related distress domain (estimated β = 0.356, P < 0.001). The correlation between SAS and DDS was positive (estimated β = 0.039, P = 0.027). In conclusion, the results showed the importance of psychological aspects in Chinese individuals with type 1 diabetes. Screening and treatment of psychological aspects may result in better adherence and increased quality of life for patients with diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3783823  PMID: 24086171
type 1 diabetes; anxiety; depression; diabetes-related distress
24.  Psychological distress after cancer cure: a survey of 459 Hodgkin's disease survivors. 
British Journal of Cancer  1997;76(6):791-796.
To assess the levels of psychological distress and identify predictors of anxiety/depression caseness after cancer cure, a national population of 557 Hodgkin's disease (HD) survivors was surveyed. The respondents [204 women, 255 men, mean age 44 years (SD = 12)] returned a mailed questionnaire including The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Disease and treatment variables were based on the hospital records. A total of 27% had caseness scores (anxiety, 14.5%; depression, 4%; anxiety and depression, 8.5%). In a multiple logistic regression analysis, anxiety caseness was predicted by low educational status [OR (odds ratio) = 2.07, 95% CI = 1.02-4.22], observational period 7 years or longer (7-10 years: OR = 3.07, 95% CI = 1.26-7.47), combined irradiation and chemotherapy treatment (OR = 2.77, 95% CI = 1.17-6.54) and psychiatric symptoms before HD (OR = 2.55, 95% CI = 1.40-4.65) or during treatment (OR = 3.51, 95% CI = 2.08-5.90). Depression caseness was predicted by age (OR = 1.03, 95% CI = 1.00-1.06) and psychiatric symptoms before HD (OR = 5.1, 95% CI = 2.55-10.31) Anxiety cases are more prevalent than in the general Norwegian population, and were found to be most common 7-10 years after treatment. The most intensive treatment was associated with increased risk for anxiety caseness. The subjects experienced distress during treatment precedes difficulties in long-term adjustment. Focusing on these predictors during treatment and follow-up controls may improve long-term outcome.
PMCID: PMC2228046  PMID: 9310248
25.  Cognitive status and behavioral problems in older hospitalized patients 
(a) To determine the quantity and quality of behavioral problems in older hospitalized patients on acute care units; (b) to determine the burden of these behaviors on staff; and (c) to identify predictors of behavioral problems.
Upon admission, patients performed the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), and information was obtained on age, ethnicity, level of education, living arrangement, and psychiatric history. Two days post-admission, a clinical staff member caring for each patient, performed the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Questionnaire (NPI-Q) to assess patients' behavioral problems and staff distress.
Participants and setting
Forty-two patients, over 60 years of age, admitted to medical and surgical units of the Veterans Affairs Hospitals in Palo Alto and San Francisco, participated.
Twenty-three of 42 (55%) patients exhibited behavioral problems. Anxiety, depression, irritability, and agitation/aggression were the most frequently observed behaviors. The severity of the behavioral problems was significantly correlated with staff distress. Lower performance on the MMSE at admission was significantly associated with higher NPI-Q ratings. Specifically, of those cases with scores less than or equal to 27 on the MMSE, 66% had behavioral problems during hospitalization, compared to only 31% of those with scores greater than 27.
Behavioral problems in older hospitalized patients appear to occur frequently, are a significant source of distress to staff, and can result in the need for psychiatric consultation. Assessment of the mental status of older adults at admission to hospital may be valuable in identifying individuals at increased risk for behavioral problems during hospitalization.
PMCID: PMC139956  PMID: 12537601
Acute Care; Older Patients; Agitation; Cognition

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