Collaborating with community health professionals to treat cancer-related depression
Depression often goes undiagnosed in people with cancer, and there are too few resources in the hospital system to support adequate treatment.
In 2018–19, MPCCC piloted a collaborative model of care to treat cancer-related depression, connecting hospital specialists, community-based psychologists and general practitioners.
At the conclusion of the 12-month study, an independent evaluation was conducted, including both quantitative and qualitative indicators.
The quantitative evaluation found that most participating cancer patients with depression experienced a clinically significant improvement to their depression. Of these, 78.6 per cent recorded a five-point or more reduction on the Patient Health Questionnaire at 12 weeks post-treatment. This translated to quality of life improvements related to relationships, self-worth, pain and emotional wellbeing.
The qualitative evaluation, which took the form of interviews with a representative selection of participants and patients, also found the model to be highly effective.
Health professionals involved in the pilot recommended continuation and expansion of the collaborative-care model to support cancer patients with depression, in both metropolitan and regional settings.
In response, the Victorian Integrated Cancer Services have now formed a working group to consider how to implement the collaborative model of care to treat cancer-related depression across Victoria.
This project was made possible by funding from the Victorian Government.
‘I now feel more confident in working with people affected by cancer beyond the life of this project.’
Participating community psychologist
‘The program changed her whole experience of what she’d been going through. She felt that she was able to manage things better and feel more in control.’
Community psychologist speaking on behalf of a participating patient