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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2004 Mar-Apr;26(2):121-8.

Distress, psychiatric morbidity, and prescriptions for psychotropic medication in a breast cancer waiting room sample.

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  • 1Departments of Psychiatry and Hematology/Oncology, Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. jcoyne@mail.med.upenn.edu

Abstract

We examined relationships among psychiatric screening, the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity, and prescription rates for psychotropic medication in a waiting room sample of breast cancer patients (N=113). Rates of distress (29%), major depressive disorder (MDD; 9%), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; 6%) were low and similar to those found in primary care settings. A substantial proportion of patients (52%) had received psychotropic medication during treatment, including almost half (48%) of those without a current psychiatric diagnosis. Most individuals with MDD received pharmacotherapy during cancer treatment (80%), although only half of those with GAD were treated. Overall high rates psychotropic medication negatively impacted the efficiency of screening, and individuals with elevated distress were about 6 times less likely to represent a case of untreated psychiatric morbidity than to be a new case. We conclude that the risk of psychiatric morbidity attributable to breast cancer may be lower and treatment rates for psychiatric morbidity higher than previously believed and that screening is unlikely to provide efficient identification of untreated psychiatric morbidity. Adequacy of follow-up care is unclear and medication may be prescribed nonspecifically. The low rate of untreated psychiatric morbidity may signal a need for multisite collaborations to generate adequate numbers of participants in clinical trials.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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