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Cancer nurses reduce depression in patients

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Specially trained cancer nurses could substantially improve the management of depression in cancer patients, according to new research.

The University of Edinburgh recruited 200 cancer patients with clinical depression. After three months almost 20% fewer of the half enrolled on the nurse-led programme were depressed compared with those receiving standard NHS treatment.

The difference was still evident after a year and patients on the programme also experienced an improvement in anxiety and fatigue.

The programme includes sessions on understanding depression and antidepressants, problem solving therapy and monthly monitoring of progress by telephone.

Professor Michael Sharpe, Director of Psychological Medicine Research, said: “This is the first time that this type of depression treatment has been evaluated in cancer patients and the results are very encouraging.”

The Lancet 2008; 372:40-48

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