Depression common in older cancer patients

Oct. 22, 2009 at 1:42 AM

SEATTLE, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Depression is common in older cancer patients and could be treated in primary care, U.S. researchers said.

The study, published in a supplement of the Journal of General Internal Medicine on cancer survivorship care, found 55 percent of the patients who received collaborative treatment, compared with 34 percent receiving the usual care, showed a 50 percent or greater reduction in depression symptoms.

Participants receiving collaborative care also had more depression-free days, less fatigue, a better quality of life, less functional impairment and fewer thoughts of death, the study found.

The collaborative care program, known as Improving Mood-Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment, included medication and other care coordinated by a depression care manager under the supervision of the primary-care provider and a psychiatrist. IMPACT was used for patients in 18 primary-care clinics in five states.

"The IMPACT intervention can be successfully provided in diverse types of primary-care settings in various locations, and not just at specialized cancer centers," Dr. Jurgen Unutzer of the University of Washington in Seattle said in a statement. "It can literally double the likelihood that the patient's depression will improve over time."

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