-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A simple two-question
survey can accurately screen cancer patients for depression,
according to a new study.
The survey asks patients whether, in the last two weeks, they
have experienced little interest or pleasure in doing things, or
felt down, depressed or hopeless. The patients are given a score
based on their answers to the two questions.
For each question, a patient can answer: not at all (worth zero
points), several days (1 point), more than half the days (2
points), or nearly every day (3 points). Patients who score a total
of at least 3 points on both questions are considered to be at risk
for having depression.
The screening test was assessed in a study that included 455
cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy at 37 centers in the
United States. They were surveyed before or within two weeks of
undergoing their first radiation treatment. Of the participants, 16
percent screened positive for depression.
The researchers found that the two-question screening test was
just as accurate in screening for depression as a longer
nine-question screening test, according to the findings, which are
scheduled for presentation Monday at the annual meeting of the
American Society for Radiation Oncology.
"We found that a two-question survey can effectively screen for depression," Dr. William Small Jr., chair of the department of radiation oncology of Loyola University Medical Center, said in a Loyola news release. "We hope this will prompt more centers to screen for depression, and to refer patients for treatment when necessary."
He and his colleagues also found that 78 percent of radiation
therapy centers routinely screen patients for depression, with half
screening at the initial visit. Sixty-eight percent of radiation
therapy facilities offered mental health services. However, 67
percent of sites had only social workers available; 22 percent
offered psychiatrists, and 17 percent offered psychologists.
"We think the results of this large, nationwide trial will have a major impact on how cancer patients are screened for depression," Small said.
Because this study was to be presented at a medical meeting, the
data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about
depression and cancer.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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