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Eur J Cancer. 2003 Apr;39(6):755-62.

Age-specific norms and determinants of anxiety and depression in 731 women with breast cancer recruited through a population-based cancer registry.

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  • 1Centre for Genetic Epidemiology, School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia.


The aim of this study was to determine population norms and determinants of anxiety and depression in a population-based sample of 731 women with breast cancer (aged 23-60 years) with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS). The prevalence of 'probable' psychological morbidity due to anxiety was 23% and due to depression was 3%. When the women identified as 'possible' cases were included, the respective proportions were 45 and 12%. Higher anxiety was present in younger, less educated women not born in Australia. There was no clear pattern of risk factors for depression. These population-based findings highlight the need for clinicians to be aware that age, education and country of birth may identify a particularly vulnerable subgroup. While brief scales such as the HADS are limited in their ability to accurately predict a clinical diagnosis, high scores identify those who may warrant referral for clinical evaluation.

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