Objectives: To assess the prevalence and predictors of depression and anxiety in women with ovarian cancer and their caregivers, to compare levels of depression and anxiety with community norms, and to explore the relationship between patients and their nominated caregivers.
Design, setting and participants: Prospective cohort study of 798 women with invasive ovarian cancer recruited between 1 January 2002 and 30 June 2006 through the nationwide Australian Ovarian Cancer Study, and 373 of their caregivers.
Main outcome measures: Depression and anxiety as assessed with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and the role of demographic variables, disease and treatment variables, psychosocial variables, and use of mental health and support services as potential predictors.
Results: Rates of anxiety and depression among patients were significantly lower than in previous reports, although clinical depression rates (5.9%) were significantly higher than community norms (3.0%; chi2 = 24.0; P < 0.001). Caregivers also reported higher levels of depression (chi2 = 21.1; P < 0.001) and anxiety (chi2 = 17.6; P < 0.001) compared with norms. There was no difference within patient-caregiver pairs for depression (P = 0.1), while caregivers reported significantly higher anxiety than patients (P < 0.01). In patients, higher symptom burden, lower optimism and current specialist mental health treatment all significantly predicted both depression and anxiety, while lower social support was a significant predictor of patient anxiety only. In caregivers, lower social support and lower optimism were significant predictors of depression and anxiety. Patients being treated for mental health was also a predictor of their caregiver's depression.
Conclusions: While depression is significantly more common in women with ovarian cancer than in the general population, it is caregivers of such patients who report much higher levels of both subclinical and clinical depression and anxiety.