Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 27–35 | Cite as

Self- and informant-rated apathy in patients with childhood-onset craniopharyngioma

  • Aylin Mehren
  • Jale Özyurt
  • Paula zu Klampen
  • Svenja Boekhoff
  • Christiane M. Thiel
  • Hermann L. Müller
Laboratory Investigation



The current study aimed to assess whether childhood-onset craniopharyngioma patients suffer from symptoms of apathy, as assessed by patients themselves and their close others. We further analyzed whether apathy scores are related to symptoms of depression.


Childhood-onset craniopharyngioma patients (n = 35, 16 female, median age = 22) and matched healthy controls (n = 35, 19 female, median age = 21) were asked to complete self-ratings of the Apathy Evaluation Scale, whereas informant-ratings were obtained from their close others. Depression was assessed by self-ratings using the German version of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. As primary outcome measures, self- and informant-rated apathy scores were compared between patients and healthy controls. As secondary outcome measures, differences between self- and informant-rated apathy within the single groups and associations between apathy and depression were analyzed.


Compared to healthy controls, patients displayed significantly higher apathy levels in informant-ratings (medianpatients = 18, mediancontrols = 12, p = .021), but not in self-ratings (medianpatients = 11, mediancontrols =12, p = .68). In patients, there was a significant discrepancy between self- and informant-rated apathy and self-rated apathy was related to symptoms of depression.


This is the first study to show that childhood-onset craniopharyngioma patients may be at high risk for apathy. Noteworthy, apathy levels in the patient group were judged to be high by their close others but not by the patients themselves, indicating that many patients were not fully aware of their impairments. As apathy is associated with numerous adverse outcomes affecting everyday life and vocational opportunities, future investigations are needed to identify specific risk factors for apathy.

Clinical Trial Registration No: NCT00258453.


Apathy Brain tumors Craniopharyngioma Depression Hypothalamus Pituitary 






The authors would like to acknowledge Saskia Sauer for helping in the collection and analysis of data.


The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.


This work was funded by a Grant (DKS2014.13) of the German Childhood Cancer Foundation, Bonn, Germany and a Grant (Forschungspool) of the European Medical School, Oldenburg, Germany.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biological Psychology Lab, Department of Psychology, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, European Medical SchoolCarl von Ossietzky UniversitätOldenburgGermany
  2. 2.Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University Hospital Karl-Jaspers-KlinikCarl von Ossietzky UniversitätOldenburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Zentrum für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin, Klinikum Oldenburg AöRMedical Campus University OldenburgOldenburgGermany
  4. 4.Research Center Neurosensory ScienceCarl von Ossietzky UniversitätOldenburgGermany
  5. 5.Cluster of Excellence “Hearing4all”Carl von Ossietzky Universität OldenburgOldenburgGermany

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