Use of psychotropic medications by US cancer survivors

Rajeshwari S. Punekar, Pamela Farley Short, John Raymond Moran, Jr.

14 Scopus citations


Objectives This study aimed to describe national utilization of psychotropic medications by adult cancer survivors in the USA and to estimate the extra use of psychotropic medications that is attributable to cancer survivorship. Methods Prescription data for 2001-2006 from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) were linked to the data identifying cancer survivors from the National Health Interview Survey, the MEPS sampling frame. The sample was limited to adults 25 years of age and older. Propensity score matching was used to estimate the effects of cancer survivorship on utilization of psychotropic medications by comparing cancer survivors and other adults in MEPS. Utilization was measured as any use during a calendar year and the number of prescriptions purchased (including refills). Analyses were stratified by gender and age, distinguishing adults younger than 65 years from those 65 years and older. Results Nineteen percent of cancer survivors under age 65 years and 16% of survivors age 65 years and older used psychotropic medications. Sixteen percent of younger survivors used antidepressants, 7% used antianxiety medications. For older survivors, utilization rates for these two drug types were 11% and 7%, respectively. The increase in any use attributable to cancer amounted to 4-5 percentage points for younger survivors (p < 0.05) and 2-3 percentage points for older survivors (p < 0.05), depending on gender. Conclusion Increased use of psychotropic medications by cancer survivors, compared with other adults, suggests that survivorship presents ongoing psychological challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1237-1243
Number of pages7
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Punekar, Rajeshwari S. ; Short, Pamela Farley ; Moran, Jr., John Raymond. / Use of psychotropic medications by US cancer survivors. In: Psycho-Oncology. 2012 ; Vol. 21, No. 11. pp. 1237-1243.