Depression Symptoms and Quality of Life Among Older European Cancer Survivors

Peng Li, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Mikko Myrskylä, London School of Economics and Political Science


Objective: This study aimed to investigate factors associated with prevalence of depression symptoms and the quality of life (QoL) among older European cancer survivors.

Methods: The longitudinal data of 6227 cancer survivors and 95909 participates of general population was extracted from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), including depression and Qol indices and demographic and health-related factors. Mixed effect regression models were used to assess demographic and health-related factors affecting QoL and depression prevalence in cancer survivors.

Results: Cancer survivors had higher depression prevalence (odds ratio (OR) = 2.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.81 – 2.25, p < 0.001) than general population. For health-related factors, more limitations with activities of daily living, underweight and lower grip strength increased depression risks. For demographic factors, survivors in older ages had lower risks than in 50 to 60; males had lower risks than females, participants married or had partnership had lower risks than others; employed or retired participants had lower risks than unemployed; people had medium or higher education levels had lower risk; Eastern and Southern Europe had higher risks, while Northern Europe had lower risks comparing to Western Europe. For females, depression risks slightly decreased when patients survived longer, but not in males. Most of the factors showed stable effects between survivors diagnosed within and longer than 5 years. Cancer survivors had lower QoL (beta = -0.66, 95% CI = -0.83 – -0.48, p < 0.001 ) than general population, and the health-related and demographic factors showed similar patterns.

Conclusions: Old cancer survivors face a substantially increased risk of depression and decreased quality of life comparing to general population. Several factors were identified as risk factors for depression and lower QoL.

Keywords: Depression, Quality of life, Survivor, Cancer

Presented in Session 6: Depression and Quality of Life