February 11, 1983

The Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorders Among Cancer Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Medical Psychology, Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Oncology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore (Drs Derogatis and Fetting); the Departments of Psychiatry and Oncology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY (Drs Morrow, Schmale, and Henrichs and Mr Carnicke): and the Psychiatry Service, Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York (Dr Penman and Ms Piasetsky).

JAMA. 1983;249(6):751-757. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330300035030

Two hundred fifteen randomly accessed cancer patients who were new admissions to three collaborating cancer centers were examined for the presence of formal psychiatric disorder. Each patient was assessed in a common protocol via a psychiatric interview and standardized psychological tests. The American Psychiatric Association's DSM-III diagnostic system was used in making the diagnoses. Results indicated that 47% of the patients received a DSM-III diagnosis, with 44% being diagnosed as manifesting a clinical syndrome and 3% with personality disorders. Approximately 68% of the psychiatric diagnoses consisted of adjustment disorders, with 13% representing major affective disorders (depression). The remaining diagnoses were split among organic mental disorders (8%), personality disorders (7%), and anxiety disorders (4%). Approximately 85% of those patients with a positive psychiatric condition were experiencing a disorder with depression or anxiety as the central symptom. The large majority of conditions were judged to represent highly treatable disorders.

(JAMA 1983;249:751-757)