This study aimed to investigate the association among denial, depression, and other defense mechanisms in patients with digestive system cancer.
This research was conducted as a case control study. Denial and depression were assessed in 105 patients with digestive system cancer (n = 36; 34.3% were diagnosed with depression). Denial was assessed using the denial of cancer interview, and depression was investigated using SCID-1 and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Defense mechanisms were assessed using the Defense Mechanism Rating Scale.
Patients with depression were less likely to experience denial. Neurotic and immature defense mechanisms were more frequently observed in patients with digestive system cancer who had depression than in those who did not have depression. In addition, a family history of psychiatric disorders, pain, and rectal cancer were related to depression. Mature defense mechanisms, humor, denial, and dissociation have independently protective functions against depression in patients with digestive system cancer.
Denial in patients with digestive system cancer can have a protective effect against depression and thus should be considered by clinicians when providing information regarding the illness and its prognosis.