Oncologists Say Mental Health Distress Affects Health Outcomes for Patients

Anxiety disorders and depression were cited by more than 80% of oncologists as the types of mental health distress seen most often for patients.

More than 80% of oncologists frequently see mental health distress in individuals with cancer, with more than 90% indicating this has a significant impact on their health outcomes, according to a survey by Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions.

The findings, published in Oncology Insights, included more than 240 oncologists in the United States as part of the survey.

“Recent research indicates that mental health generally has declined since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly concerning for patients with cancer who are already at an increased risk for mental health distress,” Heidi Hunter, president of Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions, said in a statement. “Our latest oncology survey shines a light on this issue and provides insights on additional education and resources that could help oncologists to provide much-needed support to patients.”

Anxiety disorders and depression were cited by more than 80% of oncologists as the types of mental health distress seen most often for patients with cancer. Personality and addiction disorders were also mentioned, but not as prevalent.

Only one-third of surveyed oncologists said they frequently referred individuals for mental health treatment and nearly half said there are not adequate resources available to support the mental health needs of patients with cancer.

Although 68% of oncologists agreed that early introduction of palliative care leads to better outcomes for individuals with advanced cancer, only 17% said they would refer patients to palliative care at the time metastatic disease is diagnosed.

Additionally, top barriers to delivering effective palliative care were resistance from patients and caregivers at 39%, followed by the lack of staff dedicated to palliative care at 28%.

Approximately 74% of respondents said better tools are needed to educate patients with advanced cancer about how palliative care could enhance their quality of life, whereas 45% said better data and predictive analytics are needed to help clinicians determine when to refer individuals for palliative care.

The findings are based on web surveys conducted in September, October, and November 2021. There was a mix of community- and hospital-based oncologists included in the survey population.

Reference

Mental health distress impacting cancer patients, says new Cardinal Health survey of oncologists. Cardinal Health. News release. Email.