Effect of smoking, alcohol, and depression on the quality of life of head and neck cancer patients

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. May-Jun 2002;24(3):140-7. doi: 10.1016/s0163-8343(02)00180-9.


This pilot study examined the relationship between smoking, alcohol intake, depressive symptoms and quality of life (QoL) in head and neck cancer patients. A questionnaire on smoking, alcohol, depressive symptoms and QoL was distributed to head and neck cancer patients (N=81). Over one-third (35%) of the respondents had smoked within the last 6 months, 46% had drunk alcohol within the last 6 months and 44% screened positive for significant depressive symptoms. About one-third (32%) of smokers were interested in smoking cessation services and 37% of patients with depressive symptoms were interested in depression services. However, only 9% of those who drank alcohol expressed interest in alcohol services. Smoking was negatively associated with five scales of the SF-36V including Physical Functioning, General Health, Vitality, Social Functioning, and Role-Emotional Health. Depressive symptoms were negatively associated with all eight scales on the SF-36V and all four scales of the Head and Neck Quality of Life instrument. Surprisingly, alcohol was not found to be associated with any of the QoL scales. While smoking, alcohol intake and depression may be episodically treated, standardized protocols and aggressive intervention strategies for systematically addressing these highly prevalent disorders are needed in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*