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A clear picture of the current state of nationwide depression treatment practices in individuals with cancer and depression does not exist in the United States (US). Therefore, the primary objective of this study was to examine rates of any depression treatment among individuals with cancer and depression in the US. To better understand the relationship between any treatment for depression and presence of cancer, we used a comparison group of individuals with cardio-metabolic conditions owing to the similar challenges faced in management of depression in individuals with these conditions. We used a retrospective cross-sectional design and data from multiple years of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative household-survey on healthcare utilization and expenditures. Study sample consisted of adults aged 21 or older with self-reported depression and cancer (n=528) or self-reported depression and diabetes, heart disease or hypertension (n=1643). Depression treatment comprised of any use of antidepres- sants and/or any use of mental health counseling services. Treatment rates for depression were 78.0% and 81.7% among individuals with cancer and cardio-metabolic conditions respectively. After controlling for socio-demographic, access-to-care, number of physician-visits, health-status, and lifestyle risk-factors related variables; individuals with cancer were less likely to report any treatment for depression (Adjusted Odds Ratio=0.67; 95% Confidence Interval=0.49, 0.92) compared to individuals with cardio-metabolic conditions (P≤0.01). Our findings highlight the possibility that competing demands may crowd out treatment for depression and that cancer diagnosis may be a barrier to depression treatment.
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