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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Gender Differences in the Occurrence and Severity of Anxiety, Depression, and Fatigue in Oncology Patients at the Initiation of Radiation Therapy

  • Author(s): Lieu, Christine Chong-hee
  • Advisor(s): Miaskowski, Christine
  • et al.

Research has determined that anxiety, depression, and fatigue are common problems in oncology patients, and may have negative effects on patients' quality of life (QOL). However, research on gender differences for these symptoms is limited. The purpose of this study was to evaluate for gender differences in occurrence rates and severity of anxiety, depression, fatigue and energy at the initiation of RT, and also evaluate for gender differences in QOL. Participants (n=183) undergoing primary or adjuvant RT were recruited from two RT departments located in a Comprehensive Cancer Center and a community-based oncology program at the time of the patient's simulation visit. Symptoms and QOL were evaluated using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventories (STAI-T and STAI-S), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) Scale, the Lee Fatigue Scale (LFS), and the Quality of Life-Scale-Patient Version (QOL-PV). Statistical analysis was performed by SPSS 15. Independent sample t-tests and Chi Square analyses were used to evaluate for gender differences in demographic and clinical characteristics. In addition, age was entered as a covariate in the univariate analyses of variance that evaluated for gender differences in symptom and QOL scores. The results showed that women reported higher occurrence rates for state anxiety, depression, and lower levels of morning energy compared to men. Women also reported greater severity of depression, evening fatigue, and poorer psychological and physical QOL. Findings from this study suggest that gender may influence patients' symptom experience and QOL. Further investigation is warranted to confirm the findings from this study and to understand the biological, psychological, and social factors that contribute to these differences.

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