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Effects of Sertraline on Executive Function and Quality of Life in Patients with Advanced Cancer

Xu-Juan Li, Zhi-Yuan Dai, Bei-Ying Zhu, Jia-Ping Zhen, Wen-Fu Yang, De-Qiang Li

Department of Psychiatry, First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2014; 20:1267-1273

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.890575

Available online:

Published: 2014-07-22


Background: The aim of this study was to investigate effects of the antidepressant sertraline on executive function and quality of life in patients with advanced cancer.
Material and Methods: We assigned 122 patients with stage III or IV cancer to the depressed group (DG, n=86) or the non-depressed group (NG, n=36). All subjects were given supportive treatment and patients in the DG received additional antidepressant treatment.
Results: There were significant differences in total scores of the Hamilton anxiety scale (HAMA) and the Hamilton depression scale (HAMD), performance in the Wisconsin card sorting test, and SF-36 domains. After antidepressant treatment, the level of depression and anxiety decreased significantly in the DG, but was still significantly higher than in the NG. Low executive function was enhanced in the DG, but a worsening executive function was found in total errors in the NG (–2.3±3.8) (P<0.05). The dimensions of SF-36 in physical functioning (PF), role limitations-physical (RP), bodily pain (BP), general health (GH), vitality (VT), social functioning (SF), role limitations-emotional (RE), and mental health (MH) were decreased significantly at baseline in the DG compared to the NG (P<0.01). After 12-week Sertraline treatment, improvement in the DG in factors VT, SF, RE, and MH were more powerful than in the NG (P<0.05). HAMA, HAMD, and VAS scores and tumor stage were significantly correlated to any one dimension of quality of life.
Conclusions: Depression is an important cause of decreased quality of life and executive function in patients with advanced cancer. The antidepressant sertraline can improve the executive function and quality of life, which may be helpful in the clinical practice of cancer treatment.

Keywords: Depression - etiology, Anxiety - diagnosis, Executive Function - drug effects, Neoplasms - psychology, Prospective Studies, Quality of Life - psychology, Regression Analysis, Sertraline - therapeutic use



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