Psychiatric morbidity and its recognition by doctors in patients with cancer

Fallowfield, L., Ratcliffe, D., Jenkins, V. and Saul, J. (2001) Psychiatric morbidity and its recognition by doctors in patients with cancer. British Journal of Cancer, 84 (8). pp. 1011-1015. ISSN 0007-0920

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Abstract

Psychiatric morbidity in patients with cancer is high and without appropriate treatment unremitting. We assessed the ability of 143 doctors to establish the psychological status of 2297 patients during outpatient consultations in 34 cancer centres and hospitals in the UK. Prior to seeing the doctor, consenting patients completed a short self-report questionnaire (GHQ12), designed for the psychological screening of large populations. At the end of the consultation, doctors completed visual analogue scales rating patients' distress. 837/2297 (36.4%) patients had GHQ scores suggestive of psychiatric morbidity. The doctors' sensitivity (true positive rate) was 28.87% (SD 25.29), specificity (true negative rate) 84.79% (SD 17.44). The misclassification rate was 34.7% (SD 13.79) meaning that for 797 patients the wrong assessment was probably made. These data show that much of the probable psychiatric morbidity experienced by patients with cancer goes unrecognized and therefore untreated. Doctors need communication skills training to elicit problems during consultations. Appropriate referrals to psychological services are necessary when patients requiring help are identified and ought to be an integral part of cancer care.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: detection of psychiatric morbidity, communication
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Sussex Health Outcomes Research & Education in Cancer (SHORE-C)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology Including cancer and carcinogens
Depositing User: Jil Fairclough
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2012 11:27
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2012 16:56
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/7563
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