Depression among adults with neurofibromatosis type 1: Prevalence and impact on quality of life

J. S. Cohen, H. P. Levy, J. Sloan, J. Dariotis, B. B. Biesecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) carries a significant psychosocial burden for affected individuals. The objective of this study was to measure the prevalence of depressive symptoms among a large sample of adults with NF1 and to quantify the impact of depressive symptoms on quality of life (QoL). This cross-sectional study used an Internet-based questionnaire to collect data from 498 adults who self-reported as having NF1. Using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CESD) scale, 55% of all participants (61% of females and 43% of males) scored above 16, indicating a high likelihood of clinical depression. In a multivariate regression model controlling for demographics and potential confounders, depressive symptoms accounted for 32% of the variance in QoL as measured by the Quality of Life Index. This study is the largest to date and found the highest prevalence of depression compared to prior studies. Our data provide more compelling evidence that individuals with NF1 are at increased risk for psychiatric morbidity and suggest that this population should be routinely screened for depression. Because depression was found to be strongly associated with QoL and accounted for nearly one-third of the variance in QoL, it is likely that effectively treating depression may significantly enhance QoL for individuals with NF1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-430
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Psychosocial burden
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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