Dr Leah Collins: Predicting depression, positive psychological outcomes and quality of life in Australian women with chronic illness.

Purpose of the study:
Despite the high prevalence of depression and impact on the morbidity and mortality of the chronically ill population, depression is poorly recognised and treated in cardiac patients and cancer patients. Furthermore, women experience depression at almost twice the rate of men.

Objectives: 
This study will aim to provide a thorough demographic, physical and psychological profile of Australian women with heart disease and cancer. It will also illustrate how Australian women with heart disease and cancer are similar and different to their respective age cohort of Australian women who are without heart disease or cancer. Furthermore, this study will explore the course of depression in women with heart disease and cancer longitudinally and identify some predictors of
depression in these women.

Study Design: 
Data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) was utlised for this study. ALSWH consists of three age cohorts of women (young, middle and older) who are surveyed longitudinally over a period of twenty years. Surveys one, two and three were utilised in this study spanning a period of approximately 8 years. The sample of interest for this study was women who were identified as having a recent diagnosis of heart disease or cancer. A cross-sectional analysis of their demographic, psychological and physical profiles was completed and depression scores were investigated longitudinally.

Results: 
Preliminary results indicate that women with heart disease and cancer differ demographically, psychologically and physically compared to women without heart disease or cancer. The proportion of women with heart disease and cancer who experience co-morbid depression is significantly higher than for women without heart disease or cancer and previous mental health functioning is a significant predictor of depression in women with a new diagnosis of heart disease or cancer. The impact of demographics, psychological and physical profiles on women with heart disease and
cancer with co-morbid depression will be discussed. This study will be submitted before end of August 2007.