gms | German Medical Science

62nd Annual Meeting of the German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)
Joint Meeting with the Polish Society of Neurosurgeons (PNCH)

German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

7 - 11 May 2011, Hamburg

Anxiety and depression in caregivers of patients with malignant brain tumors

Meeting Abstract

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  • D. Wiewrodt - Klinik und Poliklinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Münster
  • S. Fischbeck - Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychotherapie, Universitätsmedizin Mainz
  • S. Stieb - Klinik und Poliklinik für Neurochirurgie, Universitätsmedizin Mainz

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. Polnische Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgen. 62. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (DGNC), Joint Meeting mit der Polnischen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgen (PNCH). Hamburg, 07.-11.05.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. DocDI.03.12

doi: 10.3205/11dgnc125, urn:nbn:de:0183-11dgnc1250

Published: April 28, 2011

© 2011 Wiewrodt et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: Diagnostic procedures and therapy of malignant brain tumors are very stressful both for patients and their families. In comparison to other tumors, the loss of cognitive functions, however, seems to be alleviation for the patients, but increase the burden for their caregivers. The following questions arise: 1) How many caregivers suffer from anxiety and depression? 2) Which factors influence anxiety and depression? 3) Do caregivers perceive social support? 4) How high is the stress level?

Methods: Between August 2008 and January 2009, 50 caregivers of patients with malignant brain tumors (WHO grade III and IV) answered three questionnaires: the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), a well-established instrument measuring anxiety and depression, the “Fragebogen zur Sozialen Unterstützung” (F-SozU) measuring social support and social integration, and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) quantifying the level of stress. Published normal values served as control.

Results: The majority of the participating caregivers (median age 51 years) were female (n=30, 60%). The majority of caregivers were patient's partners (n=32, 64%), followed by their children (n=10, 20%), their parents (n=4, 8%), a family member (n=2, 4%), and friends (n=2, 4%) Patient's median age was 53 years.

Ad 1) With a cut-off-level of 11 points, 24 (49%) caregivers suffered from elevated levels of anxiety and 10 (20%) showed symptoms of depression (compared to 13% and 4% in the normal population, respectively). Ad 2) Females had more symptoms of anxiety whereas males suffered more from symptoms of depression. Neither histology nor patient's age influenced anxiety or depression in caregivers. Ad 3) Caregivers feel more socially integrated than the normal population (4.25 vs. 3.99 points). Ad 4) Caregivers showed elevated values of stress both for females and males (20.0 vs. 15.3 points) compared to the normal population (13.7 vs. 12.1 points).

Conclusions: Caregivers of malignant brain tumor patients had a manifold risk to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to normal population. Predestined factors are female gender and a higher stress level. With respect to published data, caregivers of malignant brain tumor patients demonstrated even more symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to caregivers of other malignancies and brain tumor patients themselves.