Anxiety, depression, and concentration in cancer survivors: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey results

Joanna E. Fardell, Chase M. Irwin, Janette L. Vardy, Melanie L. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: We report on prevalence of anxiety, depression, and concentration difficulties and their associations in survivors of cancer in a nationally representative sample up to 25 years after diagnosis. Methods: Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2015 to 2018, participants between the ages of 18 and 79 self-reported on cancer history, symptoms of anxiety, depression, and difficulties with concentration. Results: Of 10,337 participants, 691 (6.7%) reported a previous diagnosis of cancer; the median time since diagnosis was 8 years. Prevalence was similar between those with and without cancer for anxiety (45.8% versus 46.9%) and depression (19.7% versus 20.0%). Concentration difficulties were more common (11.3% versus 9.0%) for those with a history of cancer compared to those without (adjusted OR = 1.38, 95% CI: 1.00–1.90). Prevalence of mental health symptoms was not related to time since diagnosis. Anxiety and depression were highly correlated (r = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.74–0.86) and moderately correlated with difficulty with concentration (r = 0.52, 95%CI: 0.40–0.64 and r = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.53–0.74 respectively). Conclusions: Difficulty with concentration was more commonly reported by participants with than without a cancer history. Report of anxiety and depression was no different between participants with and without a history of cancer. Anxiety, depression, and difficulties with concentration were strongly related. Further research is needed to explore if there is a causal association, and if so, the direction of these correlations, so that interventions may be appropriately targeted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number272
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Cancer survivors
  • Concentration
  • Depression
  • Oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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