Network analysis of depression in prostate cancer patients: Implications for assessment and treatment.

Many prostate cancer patients also suffer from depression, which can decrease their life satisfaction and also impede recovery from their cancer. This study described the network structure of depressive symptomatology in prostate cancer patients, with a view to providing suggestions for clinical interventions for depressed patients.

Using a cross-sectional design, 555 prostate cancer patients completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).

Network analysis and multidimensional scaling indicated that anhedonia was the most central symptom for these men, and that several sets of depression symptoms were closely associated with each other. These included anhedonia-depressed mood; sleeping problems-fatigue/lethargy; and suicidal ideation-low self-worth-depressed mood. Other depression symptoms such as appetite problems, concentration problems, and motor problems, were less well-related with the remainder of the network. Patients receiving treatment for reocurring prostate cancer (PCa) had significantly higher PHQ9 scores than patients undergoing their initial treatment, but no major differences in their network structures. Implications for clinical practice were derived from the relationships between individual depression symptoms and the overall depression network by examining node predictability.

The use of total depression scores on an inventory does not reflect the underlying network structure of depression in PCa patients. Identification and treatment of the central symptom of anhedonia in PCa patients suggests the need to adopt specific therapies that are focussed upon this symptom.

Psycho-oncology. 2022 Dec 13 [Epub ahead of print]

Christopher F Sharpley, David R H Christie, Wayne M Arnold, Vicki Bitsika

Brain-Behaviour Research Group, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia., GenesisCare, John Flynn Hospital, Tugun, Queensland, Australia.