Background: Mental health problems have an adverse effect on the course of cardiac disease. The integration of their diagnosis and treatment into cardiology care is generally poor. It is particularly challenging in cultural environments where mental health problems are stigmatized. The objective of the current study was to investigate the proportion of cardiac patients with depression and anxiety as well as factors associated with the presence of these symptoms in a Palestinian population. Methods: This cross-sectional hospital-based study was conducted on patients consecutively admitted with a new or existing cardiac diagnosis to one of the four main hospitals in Nablus, Palestine over an eight-month period. Data was obtained from hospital medical charts and an in-person interview, using a structured questionnaire with a sequence of validated instruments. All subjects were screened for depression and anxiety using the Cardiac Depression Scale (CDS) and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-42). Multivariate ordered logistic regression analyses were performed to identify factors among four categories (socio-demographic, clinical, psychosocial, lifestyle) independently associated with depression and anxiety. Results: In total, 1053 patients with a confirmed cardiac diagnosis were included in the study with a participation rate of 96%. Based on the CDS and DASS-42, 54% met the criteria for severe depression (CDS > 100) and 19.2% for severe-to-very severe anxiety (DASS-anxiety > 15), respectively. Symptoms of depression and anxiety were more prevalent among females and less educated patients. Factors independently associated with both depressive and anxiety symptoms were post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, low level of self-esteem, high somatic symptoms, low physical and mental health component scores, active smoking, physical inactivity, and longer disease duration. Patients with depressive and anxiety symptoms also reported poor social support and lower resilience. Conclusion: There was a high level of depression and anxiety in this sample of cardiac patients. The results point to characteristics of patients in particular need for mental health screening and suggest possible targets for intervention such as strengthening of social support and of physical activity. The integration of mental health services into cardiac rehabilitation in Palestine and comparable cultural settings is warranted from the time of first diagnosis and onward.
- Cardiac rehabilitation
- Cardiovascular diseases