BACKGROUND: Depression Care for People with Cancer is a complex intervention delivered by specially trained cancer nurses, under the supervision of a psychiatrist. It is given as a supplement to the usual care for depression, which patients receive from their general practitioner and cancer service. In a 'proof of concept' trial (Symptom Management Research Trials in Oncology-1) Depression Care for People with Cancer improved depression more than usual care alone. The second Symptom Management Research Trial in Oncology (SMaRT Oncology-2 Trial) will test its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in a 'real world' setting. DESIGN: A two arm parallel group multi-centre randomised controlled trial. TRIAL PROCEDURES: 500 patients will be recruited through established systematic Symptom Monitoring Services, which screen patients for depression. Patients will have: a diagnosis of cancer (of various types); an estimated life expectancy of twelve months or more and a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. Patients will be randomised to usual care or usual care plus Depression Care for People with Cancer. Randomisation will be carried out by telephoning a secure computerised central randomisation system or by using a secure web interface. The primary outcome measure is 'treatment response' measured at 24 week outcome data collection. 'Treatment response' will be defined as a reduction of 50% or more in the patient's baseline depression score, measured using the 20-item Symptom Checklist (SCL-20D). Secondary outcomes include remission of major depressive disorder, depression severity and patients' self-rated improvement of depression. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current controlled trials ISRCTN40568538 TRIAL HYPOTHESES: (1) Depression Care for People with Cancer as a supplement to usual care will be more effective than usual care alone in achieving a 50% reduction in baseline SCL-20D score at 24 weeks. (2) Depression Care for People with Cancer as a supplement to usual care will cost more than usual care alone but will be more cost effective in achieving improvements in patients' depression and quality of life


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