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Persistent posttreatment depressive symptoms in patients with head and neck cancer

Authors

  • Lucy Hynds Karnell PhD,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Rm 21010 PFP, 200 Hawkins Drive, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa 52242
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  • Gerry F. Funk MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Rm 21010 PFP, 200 Hawkins Drive, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa 52242
    • Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Rm 21010 PFP, 200 Hawkins Drive, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa 52242
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  • Alan J. Christensen PhD,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
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  • Eben L. Rosenthal MD,

    1. Division of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Alabama, Birmingham, College of Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama
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  • J. Scott Magnuson MD

    1. Division of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Alabama, Birmingham, College of Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama
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  • Presented at the Sixth International Conference on Head and Neck Cancer, August 2004, Washington, DC

Abstract

Background.

This study examined the prevalence and risk factors of persistent (versus short-term) depressive symptoms in patients with head and neck cancer.

Methods.

Patients with 10+ and 18+ posttreatment Beck Depression Inventory scores for 6 or more months during their first year were identified. Regression analyses determined risk factors associated with persistently high scores.

Results.

Of the 148 patients, 25.0% and 7.4% were persistently above the 10+ and 18+ cutoff scores, respectively (compared with 33.6% to 44.2% and 9.2% to 18.6% when measured at single points across this time period.) The strongest predictor of persistent posttreatment depressive symptoms was pretreatment depressive symptoms.

Conclusions.

The percentage of patients with persistently high levels of depressive symptoms, although considerable, is substantially lower when patients with transient mood disorders are omitted. A screening tool that determines high levels of pretreatment depressive symptoms could identify patients at high risk of experiencing posttreatment depression who would be good candidates for clinical intervention. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck28: 453–461, 2006

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