Importance: Although a few studies have shown that mental health disorders (MHDs) are strongly associated with the 5-year survival and recurrence rates in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC), none have been replicated in a large-scale study. Objective: To describe the prevalence of MHDs in patients with HNC and the potential associations with survival and recurrence using a large insurance claims database. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study assessed data queried from the MarketScan database from January 1, 2005, through December 31, 2014, for 52641 patients with a diagnosis of HNC. To exclude patients with a preexisting HNC diagnosis or those with incomplete data, patients were included if they were in the database for at least 12 months before the index diagnosis and continuously enrolled. Data were analyzed from February 20, 2017, through January 22, 2019. Main Outcomes and Measures: To compare the frequency of MHDs before and after diagnosis of HNC, χ 2 tests for independence were used. Adjusted adds ratios (aORs) were obtained using multivariable logistic regression by comparing the prevalence of MHDs in patients with oral cavity cancer and those with other cancer sites in the head and neck. Results: Among the 52641 patients included in the analysis (mean [SD] age, 51.31 [9.79] years), men (58.5%), patients aged 55 to 64 years (46.6%), and those from the South (40.3%) were most commonly affected by HNC. Oral cavity cancers (40.4%) were the most common type, followed by cancers of the oropharynx (19.2%) and larynx (15.5%). Of the various cancer sites, the OR for MHD prevalence was significantly increased in patients with cancers of the trachea compared with the oral cavity (2.11; 95% CI, 1.87-2.38). The prevalence of MHDs in patients with HNC increased to 29.9% compared with 20.6% before the cancer diagnosis. Specifically, women (adjusted OR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.49-1.67) and patients with a history of tobacco use (adjusted OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.34-1.50) and alcohol use (adjusted OR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.38-1.76) had significantly higher odds of MHDs after the diagnosis of HNC. Conclusions and Relevance: Although the baseline MHD prevalence of 20.6% before the cancer diagnosis was close to the national average (17.9% according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health), results of this study showed that it increased to 29.9% after the cancer diagnosis. Women and patients with a history of tobacco and alcohol use were most susceptible to being diagnosed with an MHD. There is an association between patients with HNC and an increased prevalence of MHDs after treatment compared with the general population..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-344
Number of pages6
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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