An article published in The Lancet finds that cancer patients who received a care package called "Depression Care for People with Cancer" (DCPC) had lower levels of depression than those who received the usual care (antidepressants and mental health services recommended by the cancer team). Professor Michael Sharpe (University of Edinburgh, UK) and other colleagues who study psychological medicine also found that as a way of improving the quality of life of cancer patients, DCPC is more cost-effective than the current cancer treatments.
It is not uncommon for patients suffering from disorders such as cancer to experience major depression - a condition that sharply reduces quality of life. The medical community, however, lacks substantial research that can assist physicians in helping patients manage depression. In order to add to this scarce body of evidence, Sharpe and colleagues conducted the SMaRT (Symptoms Management Research Trials) oncology 1 trial to study this new complex care package (DCPC) specially designed for cancer patients with depression and delivered by nurses.
Funded by Cancer Research UK, the trial consisted of 200 patients - all with a cancer prognosis of more than six months and major depression - selected from a regional cancer center in Scotland. The patients were about 56.6 years, on average, and 71% were women (141 of 200). In the randomization process, 99 patients were placed in a group that received the usual care of antidepressants and mental health referrals that depressed cancer patients receive from their general practitioner and cancer team. The other 101 patients were placed in a group that received the usual care in addition to DCPC.
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