174261 Will Cancer Lead to Depression in Older Americans?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Huan Ni , Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA
Govind Hariharan , Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA
According to American Cancer Society, cancer, as the 2nd most important health threat, caused more than 23% of death in US of year 2004. With the risk of dying caused by cancer starting to drop in recent years, it becomes more and more important to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors. One perspective of life quality is undoubtedly related with individual mental wellbeing. In this study, we first investigate changes in mental wellbeing of patients with newly diagnosed cancer by comparing their mental health status before and after they were diagnosed. We then extend our study to analyze the mental health dynamics for cancer patients since their diagnosis.

The data we use are from the Heath and Retirement study (HRS), which is a national biennial survey targeted at older Americans with age 50 and above since year 1992. Supported by the National Institute on Aging, HRS paints an emerging portrait of an aging America's physical and mental health, insurance coverage, financial status, and family support systems. This dataset provides a short version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), which fosters our research on the dynamics of cancer patients' mental health status over time. Based on both qualitative and quantitative analysis, where we construct a panel data model with individual fixed effects under control, our results show some causality between cancer diagnosis and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, we find the existence of disparity in mental health status among cancer patients with different length of survivorship.

Learning Objectives:
Identify connections between the diagnosis of cancer and depressive symptoms among older cancer patients. Assess the magnitude of effects of having cancer on individualís mental wellbeing. Articulate the need for research and interventions to promote mental health of individuals with cancer.

Keywords: Mental Health, Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have no conflicts of interest of any type.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.