Two-thirds of cancer patients have “complete mental health,” as do three-quarters of former cancer patients (and three-quarters of those who never had cancer), according to a study in Aging & Mental Health in August 2018, which looked at a nationally representative sample of nearly 11,000 Canadians ages 50 and older.
To have complete mental health, people had to meet three criteria, which were determined by standard diagnostic questionnaires:
• Happiness or life satisfaction almost daily.
• Psychosocial well-being.
• Absence of mental health disorders and addiction in the past year.
For people with a history of cancer, the odds of CMH werehigher for female, white, married, and older respondents,as well as those with higher socioeconomic status and no history of childhood physical abuse, substance abuse, depression, or anxiety disorder (that was also true of the odds of CMH among people with no history of cancer).
The researchers did not have data about the participants’ type and stage of cancer. They noted that previous research has suggested that the stage of disease may be an important factor in resilience and mental health—that is, people with more advanced disease tend to have poorer psychosocial outcomes (such as anxiety and depression).
“Our findings represent a very hopeful message for cancer patients, their families, and their health care providers,” the researchers concluded.