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Mental health services underutilized by cancer patients

hundred fifty-one patients with a diagnosis of advanced cancer were interviewed to determine the prevalence of major psychiatric disease, the frequency of discussion of emotional complaints with providers and referral to mental health services, and predictors of use of mental health services.

The authors found that about one in ten (12 percent) of 251 patients with advanced cancer met DSM-IV criteria for a current major psychiatric disorder - a prevalence rate similar to the general population. A little over one in four (28 percent) had received mental health treatment since being diagnosed with cancer, and about one in six (17 percent) had talked with a mental health provider. Conversely, more than half (55 percent) of advanced cancer patients with psychiatric complaints had not accessed mental health services. Factors that predicted use of mental health services included race (Caucasians in particular) and most importantly, patients who had discussed emotional complaints with staff.

"Our study," write the authors, "identified the underutilization of mental health services among advanced cancer patients." They conclude, "Discussion of mental health issues with a health care provider allows distress to be detected and is the most important predictor of whether services will be received."


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Contact: David Greenberg
dgreenbe@wiley.com
201-748-6484
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
14-Nov-2005


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