Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Professor at the University of Liverpool, Professor Mari Lloyd-Williams, who led the project, said: “This study, which is one of the largest longitudinal studies ever to be carried out of palliative care patients, reinforces the need for assessment of depression to be available at the end of their life and, in particular, confirms the need to treat depression in this patient group.”
Researchers from the Academic Palliative and Supportive Care Studies Group within the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society (IPHS) analysed the responses of over 600 cancer patients in the North West region to a number of questionnaires looking at both physical and psychological wellbeing including depression and followed patients for 6 months.
They found that patients who reported higher levels of depression, and in particular, those who reported thoughts of self-harm, died earlier than those who reported lower levels of depression. This was true for patients of all ages and at all stages of illness.
The abstract can be accessed via PubMed.