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Depression in older cancer patients can be effectively treated with collaborative approach
Date:10/20/2009

34 percent of the usual care participants showed a 50 percent or greater reduction in their depression symptoms. The IMPACT participants also had higher remission rates from depression, more depression-free days, less fatigue, a better quality of life, less functional impairment and fewer thoughts of death. Many of these benefits persisted during the one-year follow up period after the intervention was completed.

"Among the functional impairments older cancer patients can experience with depression are fatigue and thinking problems, such as forgetfulness, feeling mentally slowed down, and having difficulty concentrating or solving problems. Decisions that used to be straightforward or easy for them have become challenging," Fann explained.

Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that the IMPACT collaborative care program is feasible and more effective than standard care in managing depression among older cancer patients in primary-care, and is widely applicable.

"The IMPACT intervention can be successfully provided in diverse types of primary-care settings in various locations, and not just at specialized cancer centers. It can literally double the likelihood that the patient's depression will improve over time," said Dr. Jurgen Unutzer, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and a co-investigator on the study with Fann and Dr. Ming-Yu Fan, UW research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

The results were published today, Oct. 20, in a supplement of the Journal of General Internal Medicine on cancer survivorship care in primary-care.

Obtaining effective treatment for depression is vital, explained Fann, because of the serious, troubling effects depression has on many cancer patients: A depressed person may feel less motivated to exercise or eat well, to carry out treatment plans or be an active participant in their care. The risk of suicide is twice as high among older
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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@u.washington.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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