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Public Health


Lee Caplan


Depression is a common mental health comorbidity in cancer diagnoses, affecting 8-24% of cancer patients. Despite the high prevalence of depression among cancer patients, it is often unrecognized and untreated, thereby representing an enormous psychological distress source among the cancer patient population. The purpose of this study was to explore and establish the factors that predict depression screening among cancer patients in the ambulatory care setting in the United States. The health belief model guided the study. Secondary data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey were analyzed to evaluate the predictors of depression screening in patients diagnosed with cancer. The logistic regression model was used to analyze the data and test whether the independent variables predicted depression screening among cancer patients. The study result showed a low depression screening rate of 3.8% among cancer patients. Patient age, physician specialty, and geographic region of the physician visit were found to be statistically significant predictors of receipt of depression screening among cancer patients attending ambulatory care settings. However, when all of the independent variables were controlled for in the logistic model, the gender variable was no longer a statistically significant predictor of depression screening, thereby indicating a potential confounding effect. Overall, the current study may contribute positively to society by stimulating new approaches to recognizing and managing patients with comorbid conditions and informing public debates, policy-making strategies, and screening guidelines.

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