cancer, depression, nursing assessment, palliative care



  1. Little, Liza PsyD, RN
  2. Dionne, Brianne BSRN
  3. Eaton, Jeffrey ARNP


This article reports on data that address palliative care cancer nurses' perceptions of the importance of depression as a clinical problem, their use of self-rating depression tools, and their ability to assess and treat depression. A random sample (N = 194) of palliative care nurses belonging to the Oncology Nursing Society was surveyed by mail using a case study. The response rate was 37%. Although depression was rated as the most important clinical issue in the vignette and 98% of the nurses reported that they were adequately prepared to assess and treat depression, only 54% indicated that they would mention the patient's depression to the physician or further assess the patient for depression. The majority reported not using any self-rating depression scales in their practice and indicated that they were unfamiliar with depression scales. Implications for nursing practice are addressed.