Waiting time for cancer treatment and mental health among patients with newly diagnosed esophageal or gastric cancer: a nationwide cohort study

Huan Song, Fang Fang, Unnur Valdimarsdottir, Donghao Lu, Therese M.-L. Andersson, Christina Hultman, Weimin Ye, Lars Lundell, Jan Johansson, Magnus Nilsson, Mats Lindblad

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Background Except for overall survival, whether or not waiting time for treatment could influences other domains of cancer patients’ overall well-being is to a large extent unknown. Therefore, we performed this study to determine the effect of waiting time for cancer treatment on the mental health of patients with esophageal or gastric cancer. Methods Based on the Swedish National Quality Register for Esophageal and Gastric Cancers (NREV), we followed 7,080 patients diagnosed 2006–2012 from the time of treatment decision. Waiting time for treatment was defined as the interval between diagnosis and treatment decision, and was classified into quartiles. Mental disorders were identified by either clinical diagnosis through hospital visit or prescription of psychiatric medications. For patients without any mental disorder before treatment, the association between waiting time and subsequent onset of mental disorders was assessed by hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence interval (CI), derived from multivariable-adjusted Cox model. For patients with a preexisting mental disorder, we compared the rate of psychiatric care by different waiting times, allowing for repeated events. Results Among 4,120 patients without any preexisting mental disorder, lower risk of new onset mental disorders was noted for patients with longer waiting times, i.e. 18–29 days (HR 0.86; 95% CI 0.74-1.00) and 30–60 days (HR 0.79; 95% CI 0.67-0.93) as compared with 9–17 days. Among 2,312 patients with preexisting mental disorders, longer waiting time was associated with more frequent psychiatric hospital care during the first year after treatment (37.5% higher rate per quartile increase in waiting time; p for trend = 0.0002). However, no such association was observed beyond one year nor for the prescription of psychiatric medications. Conclusions These data suggest that waiting time to treatment for esophageal or gastric cancer may have different mental health consequences for patients depending on their past psychiatric vulnerabilities. Our study sheds further light on the complexity of waiting time management, and calls for a comprehensive strategy that takes into account different domains of patient well-being in addition to the overall survival.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2017

Other keywords

  • Mental disorder
  • Gastric cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Cohort study
  • Cancer treatment
  • Waiting time
  • Geðraskanir
  • Magakrabbamein
  • Rannsóknir
  • Krabbameinslækningar
  • Krabbamein


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