Psychotropic medication use in parents of survivors of adolescent cancer: A register-based cohort study

Cancer Med. 2022 Nov;11(22):4341-4353. doi: 10.1002/cam4.4780. Epub 2022 Apr 26.

Abstract

Background: The aim was to investigate psychotropic medication use in parents of survivors of adolescent cancer from the acute post-diagnostic phase and up to 2 years following the cancer diagnosis.

Methods: This study had a nationwide register-based cohort design comparing psychotropic medication use in parents of adolescent survivors of cancer (n = 2323) to use in parents of cancer-free controls (n = 20,868). Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for cancer diagnostic group, parents' age, country of birth, education level, marital status and previous mental health problems estimated the risk of use from the time of the cancer diagnosis up to 2 years later.

Results: During the first 6 months after the cancer diagnosis, both mothers and fathers had an increased risk of use of anxiolytics (mothers: HRadj 1.71, 95% CI 1.30-2.25; fathers: HRadj 1.57, 95% CI 1.10-2.45) and hypnotics/sedatives (mothers: HRadj 1.53, 95% CI 1.23-1.90; fathers: HRadj 1.32, 95% CI 1.00-1.75). For fathers with a prescription of psychotropic medication during the first 6 months after the cancer diagnosis, the risk remained increased after 6 months (HRadj 1.66, 95% CI 1.04-2.65). From 6 months after the cancer diagnosis, only the risk of antidepressant use among mothers was increased (HRadj 1.38, 95% CI 1.08-1.76). Risk factors included being divorced/widowed, born in a non-Nordic country, older age and having had previous mental health problems.

Conclusion: Our study results show that during the immediate post-diagnostic phase, mothers and fathers of survivors of adolescent cancer are at increased risk of use of anxiolytics and sedatives, whereas only mothers are at increased risk of antidepressant use from 6 months until 2 years after the diagnosis. Further, previous mental health problems were shown to be the strongest risk factor for psychotropic medication use in both mothers and fathers, pointing to the particular vulnerability of these parents.

Keywords: adolescence; antidepressants; anxiolytics; childhood cancer; hypnotics/sedatives; mental health problems; parents; psychological distress; psychotropic drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Parents / psychology
  • Survivors

Substances

  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives