Does perceived social support, psychological problems, and fatigue impact quality of life of geriatric patients with cancer?

Indian J Cancer. 2021 Jan 27. doi: 10.4103/ijc.IJC_821_19. Online ahead of print.


Background: Health-related comorbidities often increase due to cancer among the ageing population. However, the domains of psychological functioning of geriatric patients remain undetected especially in the Indian scenario. This study aimed to evaluate psychological problems, perceived social support, fatigue, and quality of life among geriatric patients with cancer.

Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted in a tertiary cancer center. Geriatric patients with cancer (n = 130) having solid malignancies categorized as older patients (>65 years) and younger geriatric patients (60-65 years) were included in the study. Depression, anxiety, perceived social support, fatigue, and quality of life was assessed using the Geriatric Depression Screening Scale, Geriatric Anxiety Scale, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, Symbolic Assessment of Fatigue Extent, and the Old People Quality of life Scale, respectively. Descriptive and inferential statistics such as cross tab analysis, correlation and regression analysis.

Results: A majority of patients 80 (61.5%) had low perceived social support, moderate-severe depression 61 (47.7%) and mild-moderate anxiety 55 (43.1%). Half of the patients were found to have poor quality of life. Further, psychological problems were higher among older geriatric patients (p = 0.000). Very few patients had a higher impact of fatigue on their daily functioning 17 (13.3%). There was a positive correlation between perceived social support, depression, anxiety, extent of fatigue, and quality of life (r = 0.256, P = 0.003).

Conclusion: Psychological problems are higher among older geriatric patients with cancer undergoing treatment. Clinical implications could aim at regular screening to identify specific psychological issues and provide appropriate interventions. Future research warrants the efficacy of such therapeutic interventions for better quality of life outcomes.

Keywords: Anxiety; depression; elderly; quality of life; social support system.