Context: Although adjustment disorders (ADs) are common among patients with cancer and such patients are frequently referred to consultation-liaison psychiatrists, little is known about the clinical courses of these patients. Objectives: The present study investigated treatment response to psychiatric intervention and predictors of response in a relatively large sampling of cancer patients with ADs. Methods: We created a database of all referral cases with ADs that included data on the patients' demographic and medical factors and physician-rated Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale to assess treatment response and clinical course. A CGI-Improvement scale score of better than "much improved" was regarded as indicating a response to treatment; the number of patients who responded to treatment during a four-week follow-up period was assessed. Also, predictors of treatment response were explored by examining demographic and medical factors using a multivariate analysis. Results: Among the 238 eligible patients, 136 (57.1%) responded to psychiatric treatment; most of these responders improved to a subthreshold level of illness. On the other hand, 56 patients (23.5%) did not respond to psychiatric treatment, seven patients (2.9%) developed major depressive disorders, and 39 patients (16.4%) discontinued treatment before achieving a response. Among the predictive factors that were explored, suffering from pain significantly predicted a good treatment response, whereas a worse performance status predicted a poor treatment response. Conclusion: Cancer patients with ADs can respond to psychiatric treatment, but a few cases develop major depressive disorders. Several predictors of treatment response were identified.
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