Background This paper aimed to systematically review the (1) prevalence, (2) risk factors, (3) interventions, and (4) measurement instruments associated with psychosocial function decline in radiation therapy (RT) patients. Methods A MEDLINE systematic literature review was performed to identify studies monitoring psychosocial function among RT patients as a primary endpoint. Results Fifty-seven and 22 risk factors for RT-related psychosocial function decline were identified and refuted, respectively, in 93 eligible studies representing 12,808 patients. Median prevalences of psychosocial function decline prior to, during, and following RT were 20%, 36%, and 25%. Prior to RT, anxiety was more prevalent than depression (20% vs 15%), but dropped following completion of RT, whereas median depression levels remained elevated (17% vs. 27%). Of the 79 identified risk factors, 17 were reported as predictive of psychosocial decline by two or more more studies, and five had robust support: (1) physical symptoms, (2) time point during RT, (3) chemotherapy reception, (4) female gender, and (5) younger age. Three interventions were consensually reported to improve psychosocial function: psychotherapy, nursing consultation/patient education, and self-management training. Eighty-six different assessment tools were used to monitor RT-related psychosocial function decline with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (25.8%) and the psychiatric interview (22.6%) being the most utilized. The distress thermometer has been used in 5 studies (5.4%) to date. Conclusion Psychosocial function declines in approximately one-third of RT patients. Anxiety can dissipate after initiation of RT, whereas depression can persist throughout and after RT. Severe physical symptoms and time-related factors most robustly predict psychosocial function decline, which can be improved by psychotherapy and interventions aimed to improve patient education.
- radiation oncology
- radiotherapy psychosocial function
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology