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Home > Library > Annotated Journal Abstracts > 2014 Q3: Psycho-Oncology & Palliative Care Psychiatry

Annotated Abstracts of Journal Articles
2014, 3rd Quarter

Psycho-Oncology & Palliative Care Psychiatry

Annotations by Jane Walker, MBChB
September 2014

 
PUBLICATION #1 — Psycho-Oncology & Palliative Care Psychiatry
Prevalence, associations, and adequacy of treatment of major depression in patients with cancer: a cross-sectional analysis of routinely collected clinical data
Walker J, Hansen CH, Martin P, et al
The Lancet Paychiatry 2014 Oct; 1(5):343-50 [Epub ahead of print]

ANNOTATION (Jane Walker)

The Findings:  Major depression is common in people with cancer and differs by cancer site. Few depressed patients receive treatment for their depression.

Strengths and Weaknesses: The main strengths of this study are its large representative sample and that depression diagnoses were made using trained interviewers. The main weaknesses are that it was conducted in a single healthcare system (the UK National Health Service) and it only included ambulatory patients.

Relevance: The findings are relevant to C-L psychiatrists working with patients with cancer, in particular those who work in U.S. cancer centers where screening for distress is planned.

ABSTRACT (The Lancet Psychiatry)

Background:  Major depression is an important complication of cancer. However, reliable data are lacking for the prevalence of depression in patients with cancer in different primary sites, the association of depression with demographic and clinical variables within cancer groupings, and the proportion of depressed patients with cancer receiving potentially effective treatment for depression. We investigated these questions with data from a large representative clinical sample.

Methods:  We analysed data from patients with breast, lung, colorectal, genitourinary, or gynaecological cancer who had participated in routine screening for depression in cancer clinics in Scotland, UK between May 12, 2008, and Aug 24, 2011. Depression screening was done in two stages (first, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; then, major depression section of the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition). Data for depression status were linked with demographic and clinical data obtained from the Scottish National Cancer Registry.

Findings:  We analysed data for 21 151 patients. The prevalence of major depression was highest in patients with lung cancer (13·1%, 95% CI 11·9–14·2%), followed by gynaecological cancer (10·9%, 9·8–12·1), breast cancer (9·3%, 8·7–10·0), colorectal cancer (7·0%, 6·1—8·0), and genitourinary cancer (5·6%, 4·5–6·7). Within these cancer groupings, a diagnosis of major depression was more likely in patients who were younger, had worse social deprivation scores, and, for lung cancer and colorectal cancer, female patients. 1130 (73%) of 1538 patients with depression and complete patient-reported treatment data were not receiving potentially effective treatment.

Interpretation:  Major depression is common in patients attending cancer clinics and most goes untreated. A pressing need exists to improve the management of major depression for patients attending specialist cancer services.

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PUBLICATION #2 — Psycho-Oncology & Palliative Care Psychiatry
Integrated collaborative care for comorbid major depression in patients with cancer (SMaRT Oncology-2): a multicentre randomised controlled effectiveness trial
Sharpe M, Walker J, Hansen CH, et al
Lancet 2014 Sep 20; 384(9948):1099-108

ANNOTATION (Jane Walker)

The Finding:  An integrated, systematic, multi-component collaborative care-based treatment program for major depression was significantly better than usual care in achieving a treatment response in patients with cancer. The treatment program was relatively inexpensive.

Strengths and Weaknesses: The strengths of this trial include its rigorous methods, recruitment by screening and high follow-up rate. The main weakness is that, as is usually the case with such trials, the participants could not be masked to intervention allocation.

Relevance: The findings suggest that systematic and intensive integrated collaborative care treatment programs can achieve striking results for patients with comorbid depression.

ABSTRACT (PubMed)

Background: Medical conditions are often complicated by major depression, with consequent additional impairment of quality of life. We aimed to compare the effectiveness of an integrated treatment programme for major depression in patients with cancer (depression care for people with cancer) with usual care.

Methods: SMaRT Oncology-2 is a parallel-group, multicentre, randomised controlled effectiveness trial. We enrolled outpatients with major depression from three cancer centres and their associated clinics in Scotland, UK. Participants were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to the depression care for people with cancer intervention or usual care, with stratification (by trial centre) and minimisation (by age, primary cancer, and sex) with allocation concealment. Depression care for people with cancer is a manualised, multicomponent collaborative care treatment that is delivered systematically by a team of cancer nurses and psychiatrists in collaboration with primary care physicians. Usual care is provided by primary care physicians. Outcome data were collected up until 48 weeks. The primary outcome was treatment response (≥50% reduction in Symptom Checklist Depression Scale [SCL-20] score, range 0-4) at 24 weeks. Trial statisticians and data collection staff were masked to treatment allocation, but participants could not be masked to the allocations. Analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered with Current Controlled Trials, number ISRCTN40568538.

Findings: 500 participants were enrolled between May 12, 2008, and May 13, 2011; 253 were randomly allocated to depression care for people with cancer and 247 to usual care. 143 (62%) of 231 participants in the depression care for people with cancer group and 40 (17%) of 231 in the usual care group responded to treatment: absolute difference 45% (95% CI 37-53), adjusted odds ratio 8·5 (95% CI 5·5-13·4), p<0·0001. Compared with patients in the usual care group, participants allocated to the depression care for people with cancer programme also had less depression, anxiety, pain, and fatigue; and better functioning, health, quality of life, and perceived quality of depression care at all timepoints (all p<0·05). During the study, 34 cancer-related deaths occurred (19 in the depression care for people with cancer group, 15 in the usual care group), one patient in the depression care for people with cancer group was admitted to a psychiatric ward, and one patient in this group attempted suicide. None of these events were judged to be related to the trial treatments or procedures.

Interpretation: Our findings suggest that depression care for people with cancer is an effective treatment for major depression in patients with cancer. It offers a model for the treatment of depression comorbid with other medical conditions.

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PUBLICATION #3 — Psycho-Oncology & Palliative Care Psychiatry
Integrated collaborative care for major depression comorbid with a poor prognosis cancer (SMaRT Oncology-3): a multicentre randomised controlled trial in patients with lung cancer
Walker J, Hansen CH, Martin P, et al
Lancet Oncol 2014 Sep; 15(10):1168-76

ANNOTATION (Jane Walker)

The Finding: The adapted form of the treatment program evaluated in publication #2 was efficacious for depression in patients with lung cancer.

Strengths and Weaknesses: The strengths of this study is that oncologists were randomised to receive the training program or not, and patient as well as oncologist outcomes were measured. The main weakness is that only 30 oncologists took part (of the 153 who were approached).

Relevance: This trial is particularly relevant to C-L psychiatrists who work with patients with lung cancer and other poor prognosis cancers.

ABSTRACT (PubMed)

Background: The management of depression in patients with poor prognosis cancers, such as lung cancer, creates specific challenges. We aimed to assess the efficacy of an integrated treatment programme for major depression in patients with lung cancer compared with usual care.

Methods: Symptom Management Research Trials (SMaRT) Oncology-3 is a parallel-group, multicentre, randomised controlled trial. We enrolled patients with lung cancer and major depression from three cancer centres and their associated clinics in Scotland, UK. Participants were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to the depression care for people with lung cancer treatment programme or usual care by a database software algorithm that used stratification (by trial centre) and minimisation (by age, sex, and cancer type) with allocation concealment. Depression care for people with lung cancer is a manualised, multicomponent collaborative care treatment that is systematically delivered by a team of cancer nurses and psychiatrists in collaboration with primary care physicians. Usual care is provided by primary care physicians. The primary outcome was depression severity (on the Symptom Checklist Depression Scale [SCL-20], range 0-4) averaged over the patient's time in the trial (up to a maximum of 32 weeks). Trial statisticians and data collection staff were masked to treatment allocation, but patients and clinicians could not be masked to the allocations. Analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered with Current Controlled Trials, number ISRCTN75905964.

Findings: 142 participants were recruited between Jan 5, 2009, and Sept 9, 2011; 68 were randomly allocated to depression care for people with lung cancer and 74 to usual care. 43 (30%) of 142 patients had died by 32 weeks, all of which were cancer-related deaths. No intervention-related serious adverse events occurred. 131 (92%) of 142 patients provided outcome data (59 in the depression care for people with lung cancer group and 72 in the usual care group) and were included in the intention-to-treat primary analysis. Average depression severity was significantly lower in patients allocated to depression care for people with lung cancer (mean score on the SCL-20 1·24 [SD 0·64]) than in those allocated to usual care (mean score 1·61 [SD 0·58]); difference -0·38 (95% CI -0·58 to -0·18); standardised mean difference -0·62 (95% CI -0·94 to -0·29). Self-rated depression improvement, anxiety, quality of life, role functioning, perceived quality of care, and proportion of patients achieving a 12-week treatment response were also significantly better in the depression care for people with lung cancer group than in the usual care group.

Interpretation: Our findings suggest that major depression can be treated effectively in patients with a poor prognosis cancer; integrated depression care for people with lung cancer was substantially more efficacious than was usual care. Larger trials are now needed to estimate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of this care programme in this patient population, and further adaptation of the treatment will be necessary to address the unmet needs of patients with major depression and even shorter life expectancy.

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