Document Type


Date of Original Version



Pharmacy Practice



Cancer diagnosis in adults is often accompanied by negative impacts, which increase the risk of depression thereby lowering health-related quality of life (HRQoL). We examined the association between depression treatment and HRQoL among US adults with cancer and depression.


Patients age 18 and above, with self-reported cancer and depression diagnoses were identified from Medical Expenditure Panel Survey database for 2006-2013. Baseline depression treatment was categorized as antidepressants only, psychotherapy with or without antidepressant use, and no reported use of antidepressants or psychotherapy. HRQoL was measured using SF-12 physical component summary (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) scores. Adjusted ordinary least squares regressions estimated the association between type of depression treatment and HRQoL.


Out of 450 (weighted per calendar year: 2.1 million) cancer adults included in the study, 51% received antidepressants only, while 16% received psychotherapy with or without antidepressants. In bivariate analyses, the mean MCS score was lowest among those who received psychotherapy with or without antidepressants compared to those receiving antidepressants only and those with no reported use of either modality, p < 0.05. In multivariate analyses, there was no significant difference in HRQoL by type of depression treatment.


Despite treatment for depression, HRQoL did not improve during the measurement timeframe. Quality of life is a priority health outcome in cancer treatment, yet our findings suggest that current clinical approaches to ameliorate depression in cancer patients appear to be suboptimal.


Adults with cancer and comorbid depression should receive appropriate depression care in order to improve their HRQoL.