When KFM Inc. expanded to include a new division – MedComm – it was with the primary focus of improving the lives of patients in Canada. We work with many patient organizations and their patients, and often hear mental health awareness mentioned as an unmet need.
Along with improved patient care, equal access to new medications and improved patient support – all of which are critical important, the area of mental health amongst cancer patients seems to be an area needing much more attention. After speaking further with our patient organizations, we decided to do some further research.
MedComm recently put out a survey to the general population addressing this topic. The results were inline with the anecdotal patient feedback we have been receiving. 25% of survey respondents said they experienced feelings of sadness while having cancer. Over 70% of this same group said they experienced feelings of sadness up to three days every week, with the remaining respondents saying they had feelings of sadness up to seven days a week or all the time.
When asked if those experiencing sadness had spoken to their doctor about how they were feeling, more than 40% said no, and over 20% said they didn’t feel they had effective tools to deal with their depression in a healthy way.
The other standout was that, when respondents were asked “Do you think that the healthcare community needs to do a better job at improving awareness and understanding of mental health issues amongst cancer patients?”, over 60% responded ‘yes’ – highlighting an obvious need for deeper analysis and an improvement plan.
The respondents also left several comments regarding gaps they felt existed with respect to support and resources available to patients, in order to help them cope with their feelings of depression, anxiety and/or sadness while having cancer.