Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 12, pp 3471–3481 | Cite as

Comparison of physical and mental health status between cancer survivors and the general population: a Korean population-based survey (KNHANES II-IV)

  • Kyae Hyung Kim
  • Young Youn Cho
  • Dong Wook Shin
  • Ju Hyun Lee
  • Young-Jin Ko
  • Sang Min ParkEmail author
Original Article



To compare the physical and mental health status of the general population with that of cancer survivors in South Korea.


We analyzed 19,035 subjects (age ≥40 years), who participated in the 2001–2009 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey II–IV. We compared metabolic syndrome components, health behaviors, and mental health outcomes between cancer survivors and non-cancer controls.


Cancer survivors accounted for 1.68 % (n = 316) of total population. Cancer survivors did not show low occurrence of hypertension and diabetes compared to the control group. Both cancer survivors and the general population had high risks of physical inactivity (75.4 % and 75.5 %, respectively) and inadequate sleep (52.5 % and 60.7 %, respectively). In the unadjusted model, depression was more common in cancer survivors (odds ratio [OR], 1.61; 95 % CI, 1.22–2.74), so was suicidal ideation (OR, 1.51; 95 % CI, 0.16–1.96) than non-cancer controls. After adjustment for attributable socioeconomic factors, the elevated adjusted odds ratios (aORs) among cancer survivors were reduced by 23 % in depression and 45 % in suicidal thought. Cancer survivors at <5 years from diagnosis showed a high occurrence of depression (aOR, 1.77; 95 % CI, 1.09–2.85) while the magnitude of aOR decreases after ≥5 years from cancer diagnosis (aOR, 1.38; 95 % confidence interval, 0.97–1.98, respectively).


The physical and mental health of South Korean cancer survivors was not optimal. Their control rates of modifiable risk factors were similar or even lower than those for the non-cancer groups. Depression was highly prevalent in cancer survivors which can be ascribed, at least in part, to socioeconomic environment. A better-targeted intervention to improve the health of this population may be needed.


Neoplasms Survivors Metabolic syndrome Lifestyle Health behavior Depression Suicidal thought 



We thank the members of the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs who conducted the national survey and everyone who contributed to this project.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyae Hyung Kim
    • 2
  • Young Youn Cho
    • 3
  • Dong Wook Shin
    • 2
  • Ju Hyun Lee
    • 2
  • Young-Jin Ko
    • 2
  • Sang Min Park
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine & Department of Biomedical SciencesSeoul National University College of MedicineSeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Family MedicineSeoul National University HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of Internal MedicineSeoul National University HospitalSeoulSouth Korea

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