It is important to assess psychological distress after a diagnosis for cancer survivors, a population with a high risk for psychological distress. The aim of this study is to assess psychological distress (current depressive symptoms, history of depression, and stress) among cancer survivors and to clarify the associated factors (sociodemographics, behavioral factors, and clinical variables) based on a nationwide sample of cancer survivors.
In this cross-sectional analysis, data were obtained from standardized questionnaires administered to 1,163 cancer survivors and 49,243 non-cancer survivors who participated in the Fourth and Fifth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007-2012). We identified the adjusted rates for psychological distress and assessed factors associated with this kind of distress using multivariate logistic regression.
Cancer survivors tended to have a higher adjusted rate of psychological distress than the general population. The current depressive symptom rates for non-cancer and cancer survivors were 12.39% and 16.69%, respectively (p < 0.05). The adjusted rate for history of depression in cancer survivors as compared to non-cancer survivors was significantly higher (10.57% in non-cancer survivors, 15.61% in cancer survivors). The adjusted rate for stress was 80.99% in non-cancer survivors and 84.63% in cancer survivors (p < 0.05). Among the cancer survivors, younger subjects, female subjects, and those with limited social support were more prone to psychological distress. And, current smokers or risky drinkers, those with chronic diseases, and those with a poor self-perception of their health status were also identified as a high-risk group for psychological distress.
As the number of cancer survivors has increased, the importance of assessing psychological distress after a cancer diagnosis should be emphasized among all cancer survivors. Further, psychological supportive care interventions for cancer survivors are needed to improve the survival rate and improve their quality of life.
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.