Study: Palliative Care Can Curb Depression and Trauma in HSCT Patients

According to a study, Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) is potentially curative for patients with various blood cancers, but the intensity of this treatment leaves some patients with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even years after the transplant. The study  found that as many as 41% of HSCT survivors experience PTSD symptoms up to 10 years post transplant.

The results show that a palliative care intervention at the time of the transplant can greatly reduce this. The study, published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, has found that patients who received palliative care while hospitalized for HSCT experienced a “remarkable and sustained improvement” in depression and PTSD symptoms 6 months following their transplant.

Patients self-reported lower depression symptoms on the depression sub-scale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-D) and the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and fewer symptoms of PTSD. However, no differences were observed for anxiety or quality of life (QOL) when compared with those who did not receive the intervention.

“I think these findings are certainly compelling, and we should be seriously thinking about conducting additional studies to ensure their generalizability,” said lead author Areej El-Jawahri, MD, an oncologist specializing in hematologic malignancies at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

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