Prevalence and associated factors of psychological distress among Korean cancer patients

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. May-Jun 2011;33(3):246-52. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2011.02.008. Epub 2011 Mar 31.


Objectives: This study primarily aimed to investigate the prevalence and associated factors of psychological distress among Korean cancer patients. Its secondary objective was to classify mental illnesses among cancer patients with significant psychological distress.

Methods: We administered the Modified Distress Thermometer (MDT), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) to consecutive, newly diagnosed cancer patients and conducted subsequent psychiatric interviews. A multiple logistic regression produced a discriminate profile of individuals with psychological distress.

Results: Among 295 participants, 85 (28.8%) were identified as patients with psychological distress. Female gender [odds ratio (OR)=1.97], low educational level (OR=2.25) and low performance status (OR=4.10) were significantly associated with this condition. Among the 38 patients with psychological distress who received psychiatric assessment, the most common mental illness was adjustment disorder (n=23, 69.7%).

Conclusion: The results of this study showed that approximately one-third of the cancer patients suffered from psychological distress. We recommend that physicians focus on the psychological status of female cancer patients with low levels of education and poor performance status.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult