Computerized prospective screening for high levels of emotional distress in head and neck cancer patients and referral rate to psychosocial care

Irma M. Verdonck-de Leeuw*, Remco de Bree, Alieke L. Keizer, Ton Houffelaar, Pim Cuijpers, Mecheline H. van der Linden, C. René Leemans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To investigate prospectively the prevalence of high levels of emotional distress and referral rate to psychosocial care in head and neck cancer (HNSCC) patients. Fifty-five consecutive newly diagnosed HNSCC patients were asked to complete the hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS) and the EORTC QLQ-C30 and H&N35 quality of life questionnaires on a touch screen computer-assisted data collection system on their first visit and during follow-up visit. Sociodemographic, clinical, and quality of life parameters were compared to a high level of distress (HADS score >15). Number of patients with a high level of distress were compared to referral rates to psychosocial care as retrieved from patient hospital files. At time of diagnosis, 18% (10/55) of the patients had a high level of distress (related to tumor stage and site, and global quality of life and social eating) versus 25% (14/55) at follow-up (related to a variety of quality of life parameters). Low levels of distress at baseline or follow-up was noted in 64%; 18% had normal scores at baseline and developed distress at follow-up; 11% had high levels at baseline and returned to normal scores at follow-up, and 7% had persistent distress from baseline to follow-up. No patients were referred to psychosocial care at time of diagnosis. At follow-up visit 21% (3/14) were referred, all patients who developed a high level of distress after initial diagnosis. High level of emotional distress is common and few patients are referred to psychosocial care. Development of a stepped care model (including careful monitoring by using a touch screen computer system) may meet the potentially unmet needs of HNC patients and contribute improving cancer care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOral Oncology
Volume45
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009

Keywords

  • Depression, anxiety
  • Disease management
  • Distress
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Psychosocial oncology
  • Psychotherapy
  • Referral rate
  • Screening
  • Social work

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