Psychological distress two years after diagnosis of breast cancer: frequency and prediction

Patient Educ Couns. 2000 Jun;40(3):209-17. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(99)00085-3.


The present prospective study aimed at (1) investigating the frequency of high levels of psychological distress in women with early-stage breast cancer almost two years after diagnosis and (2) identifying characteristics associated with long-term distress. One hundred and seventy women participated on two occasions. Two months after surgery, patients completed questionnaires measuring psychosocial variables (e.g., stressful life-events, health complaints, sleep problems, social support, subjective distress, personality factors), demographic and biomedical variables (e.g., TNM status, type of surgery). At the second measurement, subjective distress was assessed for a second time by means of the Impact of Events Scale (IES). Almost two years after diagnosis, 16% of the women reported a high level of psychological distress as measured by the Intrusion scale (IES). Best predictors of a high level of distress were: intrusive thoughts about the disease, trait-anxiety, health complaints and problems with sleeping. No significant association was found between previous life-events, social support or biomedical variables and levels of distress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychological Tests
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*