The development of evidence-based European guidelines on the management of depression in palliative cancer care

Eur J Cancer. 2011 Mar;47(5):702-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2010.11.027. Epub 2011 Jan 4.


Depression is common in cancer patients, particularly those with advanced disease. It is associated with adverse outcomes such as increased pain, disability and poorer prognosis. Our aim was to produce a European evidence-based clinical guideline on the management of depression in patients receiving palliative care to inform practice, establish policy, promote European consensus and ultimately improve patient outcomes. Recommendations were devised using the best available evidence. Where evidence was absent or equivocal, Delphi consensus methods were implemented to elicit and refine expert opinion. Evidence was graded according to the process proposed by GRADE. The resulting guideline has three main sections: (1) prevention; (2) detection, diagnosis and assessment; and (3) treatment. The prevention section outlines strategies such as optimal palliative care and support, effective communication and information-giving. The detection section provides recommendations on symptoms, screening, diagnosis and severity assessment. The treatment section gives guidance on treatment decisions including choice of psychological therapy and antidepressant medication. This is the first comprehensive, evidence-based guideline on managing depression in palliative care. It has the potential to improve patient outcomes by enabling clinicians to access and implement evidence-based knowledge quickly and easily.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Prognosis
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Support


  • Antidepressive Agents