The frequency and cause of anxiety and depression amongst patients with malignant brain tumours between surgery and radiotherapy
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- Kilbride, L., Smith, G. & Grant, R. J Neurooncol (2007) 84: 297. doi:10.1007/s11060-007-9374-7
Between surgery and radiotherapy patients with a malignant glioma may encounter a number of psychosocial issues that could invoke an anxious or depressive response. This study explored the frequency, severity and cause of anxiety and depression in patients with presumed malignant brain tumours in the period between their surgery and radiotherapy.
A prospective study of 51 patients used mixed methods to measure anxiety and depression at three time points; post surgery, three weeks post surgery and pre radiotherapy. Analysis was undertaken using statistical and content analysis of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scores and unstructured interviews respectively.
Analysis of HAD scores indicated a heightened level of anxiety in patients pre radiotherapy. This anxiety is more prevalent in younger patients and is not related to the patients change in functional state. Five patients had a significant depression at one or more time points between surgery and radiotherapy. Four of the five patients who reported scores consistent with depression had past histories of depression. Content analysis of unstructured interviews indicated that the HAD scores underestimated the presence of anxiety and depression amongst this group of patients.
Anxiety was more common in younger patients. Anxiety was slightly more frequent pre-radiotherapy. A past medical history of depression is a predictor of significant depression in the post-operative period. The HAD scale although useful is not an adequate measurement tool for detecting anxiety and depression amongst all patients and health care professionals should adopt other means to monitor for these signs and symptoms.