Background. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are among the major mental health problems in cancer patients. These symptoms affect the quality of life and treatment adherence, and are associated with other symptoms and longer hospital stays. Valid and reliable screening instruments such as the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), have made possible the detection of possible cases of depression and anxiety in medically ill patients. However, the psychometric properties of this instrument have not been documented in different types of cancer diagnoses in the Mexican population.
Objective. To determine the psychometric properties of the HADS in a sample of patients with cancer from the Mexican population.
Method. Four hundred patients from the National Cancer Institute participated, of which 226 were women (56.5%) and 174 men (43.6%), with a mean age of 47.4 ± 14.1 years. Participants completed concurrently the HADS as well as the following inventories: 1. Beck Depression, 2. Beck Anxiety and 3. Distress Thermometer.
Results. A factor analysis adjusted to two factors explained 48.04% of the variance, with 12 items loading on these two factors in a way similar to the original version. The internal consistency of the overall scale was satisfactory (α = 0.86). Cronbach’s alphas for each subscale were .79 and .80. The concurrent validity assessed by way of correlations with concurrent measures showed significant associations (Pearson r = 51-71, p < 0.05).
Discussion and conclusion. The HADS has adequate construct validity, internal consistency and concurrent validity for its use in cancer patients from the Mexican population. The relevance of these results is a cost effective tool to provide timely mental health care early in oncological treatment for those in need. Detecting anxiety and depression symptoms through the HADS may benefit cancer patients by ensuring appropriate care that may increase their quality of life and treatment adherence, and reduce their hospital stays.