Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 591–600

Characterizing the psychological distress response before and after a cancer diagnosis

  • Jessica R. Schumacher
  • Mari Palta
  • Noelle K. LoConte
  • Amy Trentham-Dietz
  • Whitney P. Witt
  • Susan M. Heidrich
  • Maureen A. Smith
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10865-012-9453-x

Cite this article as:
Schumacher, J.R., Palta, M., LoConte, N.K. et al. J Behav Med (2013) 36: 591. doi:10.1007/s10865-012-9453-x

Abstract

Psychological distress among cancer survivors is common. It is unknown if symptoms predate diagnosis or differ from patients without cancer because studies are limited to patient follow-up. Linked cohort (Wisconsin Longitudinal Study) and tumor registry records were used to assess the psychological distress response pre- to post-cancer diagnosis. Adjusted predicted probabilities of being in one of five categories of change for three psychological distress measures (depression, anxiety, well-being) were compared for participants diagnosed with cancer between 1993–1994 and 2004–2005 and participants without cancer (N = 5,162). Cancer survivors were more likely to experience clinically significant increases (≥0.8 standard deviation) in depression (15, 95 % CI = 12–18 %) and anxiety (19 %, CI = 16–22 %) compared to their no-cancer counterparts (10 %, CI = 10–11 %; 11 %, CI = 11–12 %). Cancer survivors <5 years from diagnosis were more likely to experience worsening depression. Survivors ≥5 years were more likely to experience worsening anxiety. No significant results were found for well-being. Characterizing the psychological distress response is a prerequisite for identifying at-risk patients and communicating expected symptoms, allowing for proactive resource provision.

Keywords

CancerOncologyDepressionAnxietyQuality of lifePsychological well-being

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica R. Schumacher
    • 1
  • Mari Palta
    • 2
    • 3
  • Noelle K. LoConte
    • 4
  • Amy Trentham-Dietz
    • 2
  • Whitney P. Witt
    • 2
  • Susan M. Heidrich
    • 5
  • Maureen A. Smith
    • 2
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Health Services Research, Management and PolicyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Population Health SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biostatistics and Medical InformaticsUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology/OncologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  5. 5.School of NursingUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  7. 7.Department of SurgeryUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA