Objectives: To determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms among oncology patients and identify simultaneous use of antineoplastic and antidepressant agents.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study that interviewed 56 oncology patients using two data collection instruments: a questionnaire covering clinical and sociodemographic data and the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), for assessment of depressive symptoms. For data analysis, descriptive statistics were used to determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms and the chi-square test was used to evaluate associations between sociodemographic and clinical variables and depressive symptoms.
Results: A 26.7% (15 patients) prevalence of depression was detected. Just eight of these 15 patients (53.3%) were receiving treatment for depression. In the sample as a whole, 13 of the patients interviewed (23.2%) were taking antidepressants and 11 of these 13 patients (19.6%) were taking antidepressive and antineoplastic agents simultaneously. A total of five (8.9% of the sample) contraindicated drug interactions were detected.
Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are more prevalent among cancer patients than in the general population, but they are generally under-diagnosed and under-treated. Simultaneous use of antidepressant and antineoplastic agents is common and so, in order to reduce the number of harmful adverse effects, possible drug interactions must be identified before antidepressants are prescribed to cancer patients.