Hospital nurses with no previous psychiatric experience have been found to offer substantial comfort to cancer patients with symptoms of depression, according to a study.
A team of Scottish researchers found that patients offered a depression care intervention, by oncology nurses specially trained to deliver the service, showed improvements in symptoms of depression compared to patients offered usual care.
The study also found that the beneficial effects of the Depression Care for People with Cancer (DCPC) package carried on up to a year after the treatment.
Depression has been found to affect the quality of life of many cancer patients. It is estimated that 10% of patients with cancer suffer from depression in one form or another.
Patients allocated to DCPC were offered seven one-to-one consultations over three months. The sessions aimed to help patients understand depression and its treatments.
The nurses, who had no previous experience of psychiatry, were trained to deliver the intervention using written materials, tutorials and supervised practice over a period of at least three months.
Professor Michael Sharpe and colleagues from the University of Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, found that patients who received DCPC had a lower depression level than those who did not receive DCPC. The intervention also improved anxiety and fatigue, but did not improve pain or physical functioning.
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