The influence of a cancer diagnosis on an individual's mental health: a retrospective Canadian cohort study

Foster, Samantha (2019) The influence of a cancer diagnosis on an individual's mental health: a retrospective Canadian cohort study. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Rationale: There is currently little literature available that discusses the link between cancer and mental illness outside of the diagnosis of depression. Objective: The primary objective of this thesis project is to assess the impact of a cancer diagnosis on indicaors of an individual’s mental health, that is, the diagnoses of mental health disorders, the use of psychotropic drugs, and/or a referral to a mental health specialist after index diagnosis for cancer. Hypothesis: It is hypothesized that there will be an increase in both the diagnosis of mental illness and the use of psychotropic drugs following a diagnosis of cancer. Method: The study was conducted using the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance (CPCSSN) database. The electronic medical records of patients with incident cancer diagnoses, i.e. diagnosed within the past three years, were identified. Those cases were then followed for a year, examined for mental health condition diagnoses and prescription of psychoactive drugs, and compared to a cancer-free, matched cohort. Results: It was found that oncology patients were twice as likely to have a subsequent mental illness indicator in the year after diagnosis (OR=2.05, 95% CI=1.68-2.50, p=0.001). The type of cancer did not appear to have an impact on whether or not the patient would experience a mental illness indicator (χ²=0.074, p=0.626). It did, however, impact the type of mental illness diagnosed (χ²=40.522, p<0.001) and the type of psychoactive drug prescribed (χ²=30.679, p<0.001). Conclusion: Implications of this study encourage the promotion of screening for mental illness in oncology patients.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 13802
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 29-40).
Keywords: Mental Health, Cancer, Canada, Comorbidity
Department(s): Medicine, Faculty of
Date: May 2019
Date Type: Submission
Medical Subject Heading: Neoplasms--therapy; Mental Health; Comorbidity; Mental Disorders--diagnosis.

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