Requestioning depression in patients with cancer: contribution of somatic and affective symptoms to Beck's Depression Inventory

Ann Oncol. 2007 Nov;18(11):1875-81. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdm353. Epub 2007 Sep 5.


Background: Depressive symptoms are a major complaint reported by cancer patients. Somatic and affective symptoms can contribute to depression.

Patients and methods: We investigated the prevalence of somatic and affective depressive symptoms with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) in 213 hospitalized cancer patients prior to the start of chemotherapy.

Results: Seventeen of 213 patients (8%) were screened positive for major depression; 40 (19%) had mild to moderate depressive symptoms. The corresponding figures for somatic and affective symptoms were 33.3% and 2.8% in the patients with major depression and 23.0% and 8.0% in those with mild to moderate depressive symptoms. Female patients, patients with solid tumour and those with functional limitations had significantly higher mean scores. All differences were related to higher scores in somatic and not in affective items.

Conclusions: Most alterations in the BDI in cancer patients are related to somatic and not to affective symptoms and may be attributed not to depression but to severity of the underlying disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Probability
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires