Depression symptoms of African American patients with cancer are often under-recognized, a new study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, has found.
For the study, researchers sought to investigate whether depression in African American patients with cancer goes under-recognized for treatment.
The researchers identified 34 depressed African American cancer patients, 23 non-depressed African American cancer patients, and 17 depressed Caucasian cancer patients at a Northeast Ohio medical center.
All participants had been diagnosed with early-stage breast or prostate cancer within the last 3 years and received their last treatment at least 6 months ago. Patients were asked open-ended questions to assess their depression.
Results showed that depressed African American patients reported more irritability, wanting to be alone, insomnia, fatigue, and crying than non-depressed black patients.
Researchers also found that depressed black patients reported sad feelings less frequently than depressed white patients. Black patients were also more likely to use words like "feeling down," "low," "gloomy," or "blue" to describe their feeling rather than "depressed."
Case Western Reserve University nurse scientist Amy Zhang, who has long examined quality-of-life issues in cancer patients, wondered whether depression in African-American cancer patients has been under-recognized for treatment.