Depression following a diagnosis of cancer appears to be significantly more prevalent in British South Asians compared with Caucasian people in the UK, according to findings from a cross-sectional survey carried out at the University of Leicester.

The study, published in BMJ Open, compared depressive symptoms among 94 British South Asian (BSA) patients with those seen in 185 British White (BW) patients during the 9 months following presentation at a UK cancer centre.

A variety of assessment tools, including The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-D), Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Emotion Thermometers, Mini-MAC and the newly developed Cancer Insight and Denial questionnaire (CIDQ), were used in the evaluation.

Significantly higher rates of selfreported depressive symptoms were seen in BSA patients compared with BW patients; HADS-D ≥8 scores at 9 months were 40.6% vs 15.3% respectively (p=0.004). BSA patients also used potentially maladaptive coping strategies (hopelessness/helplessness, fatalism, avoidance) more frequently than BW patients at baseline, were significantly more likely to adopt denial and reported more physical symptoms.

Lead author Paul Symonds, Professor of Clinical Oncology at the University, said:

“Our findings are strictly only relevant to the study group and patients from the county of Leicestershire. However, we think it is highly likely that there is a higher incidence of depression among British South Asian cancer patients elsewhere in the United Kingdom and our findings have important implications for the NHS.”


Lord K, Ibrahim K, Kumar S, et al. BMJ
Open 2013;3: e002650. doi:10.1136/