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Psychooncology. 2012 Mar;21(3):239-46. doi: 10.1002/pon.1882. Epub 2010 Dec 20.

Depression in lung cancer patients: the role of perceived stigma.

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  • 1Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.



Previous research has shown that lung cancer patients are at an increased risk for depressive symptomatology; however, little is known about the factors contributing to depression in these patients. This study focused on the possible association between perceived stigma related to a lung cancer diagnosis and depressive symptomatology. It was hypothesized that greater perceived stigma would be related to greater depressive symptomatology and that perceived stigma would account for variance in depressive symptomatology above and beyond that accounted for by relevant clinical, demographic, and psychosocial variables.


A sample of 95 participants receiving chemotherapy for stage II-IV non-small cell lung cancer was recruited during routine outpatient chemotherapy visits. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire and self-report measures assessing perceived stigma, depressive symptomatology, and other psychosocial variables. A medical chart review was conducted to assess clinical factors.


As hypothesized, there was a positive association between perceived stigma and depressive symptomatology, r = 0.46, p<0.001. Perceived stigma also accounted for significant unique variance in depressive symptomatology above and beyond that accounted for by relevant demographic, clinical, and psychosocial factors, β = 0.19, p<0.05.


Future research should aim to replicate and extend these findings in longitudinal studies and explore whether lung cancer patients' depressive symptomatology can be ameliorated by targeting perceived stigma.

Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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