Screening and Assessment of Distress, Anxiety, and Depression in Cancer Patients

Sammanfattning: Aims and Methods The overall aim was to evaluate methods of screening and assessment of distress, anxiety, and depression in cancer patients. Further, to evaluate effects of a psychosocial intervention and to explore changes of distress, anxiety, depression, and HRQoL during six months. Study I included 495 consecutive patients screened with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) at their first visit to an Oncology Department. Half of the patients with >7 on any of HADS subscales received standard care (SCG), and half received a psychosocial intervention (IG). To compare HADS with a thorough clinical assessment (CA), Study II included 171 identified patients representing both sexes, <65/≥65 years, and curative/palliative treatment intention.Results Screening with HADS identified anxiety or/and depression symptoms in 36% of the 495 patients. Thirty-six (43%) of 84 IG patients attended CA, resulting in support for 20 (24%) of them. There were no differences between SC and IG during follow-up, anxiety and depression decreased and HRQoL increased, although anxiety was still present and HRQoL impaired at six months. The Distress Thermometer (DT) ≥4 (sensitivity 87%, specificity 73%) is valid for screening of distress; its ability to measure changes over time is comparable to HADS. Of 319 patients screened with <8 on both HADS subscales, 196 (80%) were stable non-cases with HRQoL comparable to that of the general population and 49 (20%) patients were unstable non-cases, with deteriorated anxiety, depression, and HRQoL. >4 on HADS subscales may be useful for early detection of unstable non-cases. In Study II, HADS identified 49 (34%) and the CA 71 (49%) patients as having distress, anxiety or depression. CA identified more men and more young patients with distress than HADS did.Conclusion Screening and assessment identifies patients with persistent symptoms and increases access to CA and support. The DT may be used routinely in oncology care. When HADS is used, healthcare professionals should be aware of psychosocial problems perceived by patients but not covered by HADS. Most patients identified with distress seem to have resources to manage problems without needing additional support. Patients screened as non-cases indicate no need for re-assessment.