Caregivers of kids with cancer suffer from high mental health burden amid pandemic

22 Sep 2021
Caregivers of kids with cancer suffer from high mental health burden amid pandemic
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During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, mental health problems have grown common among caregivers of children with cancers, a recent study has found.

Using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) tools, the researchers assessed two cohorts of 50 participants each for psychological distress. All participants were guardians of children with cancer, and all interviews were conducted over the phone.

In cohort A, consisting of guardians of paediatric cancer patients also diagnosed with COVID-19, eight (16 percent) had PHQ-9 scores ≥10, indicative of moderate-to-severe depression. In cohort B, five patients achieved the same PHQ-9 scores, yielding a prevalence of 10 percent.

A GAD-7 score of ≥8 was set as the threshold moderate-to-severe anxiety and was observed in 20 percent (n=10) and 16 percent (n=8) in cohorts A and B, respectively. Eighteen participants met both the PHQ-9 and GAD-7 criteria for moderate-to-severe psychological distress.

The overall prevalence rates of moderate-to-severe depression and anxiety were 13 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

“The study provides a picture of the incidence of depression and anxiety in a vulnerable targeted population and reiterates the fact that coupling of index and mental health department services are necessary to mitigate these disturbances posed by challenging situations like the current pandemic, even in resource constrained settings with limited trained manpower utilizing the available technologies,” the researchers said.

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