Psychosocial interventions for anxiety and depression in adult cancer patients: achievements and challenges

CA Cancer J Clin. Jul-Aug 2008;58(4):214-30. doi: 10.3322/CA.2008.0003. Epub 2008 Jun 16.


Psychosocial care is increasingly recognized as an essential component of the comprehensive care of the individual with cancer. Improving patients' access to psychosocial care is important; however, ensuring that the care made available has been shown to be effective is just as important. Accordingly, the goal of this review is to describe an evidence-based approach to the psychosocial care of adults with cancer. The focus is on anxiety and depression because a considerable body of research has examined the impact of psychosocial interventions on these outcomes. After describing the sources, assessment, and prevalence of anxiety and depression in adults with cancer and presenting existing clinical practice guidelines for their management, previous publications that systematically reviewed evidence of the efficacy of psychosocial interventions are summarized. The use of these publications to derive specific recommendations for the use of psychosocial interventions in the management of anxiety and depression is then illustrated. In addition, examples are provided of interventions that are effective against anxiety and depression and have good potential for dissemination in routine clinical practice. The review concludes with a discussion of future directions for the continued development of an evidence-based approach to the psychosocial care of people with cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Psychotherapy* / classification
  • Treatment Outcome