Psychological adjustment to familial-genetic risk assessment for ovarian cancer: predictors of nonadherence to surveillance recommendations

Gynecol Oncol. 2002 Jan;84(1):72-80. doi: 10.1006/gyno.2001.6461.


Objective: To evaluate whether self-report measures of psychological distress and perceived risk were associated with nonadherence to recommended ovarian cancer surveillance.

Methods: Eighty-three patients attending the Familial Ovarian Cancer Clinic (FOCC) at Princess Margaret Hospital were assessed psychosocially prior to and during initial familial-genetic assessment and then monitored for adherence with recommended follow-up surveillance over a period of 12-18 months. The assessment protocol included an investigator-designed clinic questionnaire, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD), Life Orientation Test (LOT), Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey (MOSSS), Texas Inventory of Grief, and the COPE. Nonadherence was measured in terms of unexplained absences at one or two recommended and scheduled surveillance appointments following the familial-genetic assessment.

Results: Univariate tests revealed a significant association between higher perception of ovarian cancer risk, as assessed immediately after the familial-genetic risk assessment in the clinic and nonadherence to physician-recommended surveillance (chi2 (2, N = 83) = 9.75, P < 0.008). Empirically based estimates of risk, conveyed by the clinic team to subjects, were not significantly associated with nonadherence (chi2 (2, N = 83) = 0.19, P = 0.91). Logistic regression analysis revealed that subjects who perceived themselves to be at high ovarian cancer risk were five times more likely to be nonadherent than participants who perceived themselves to be at low or medium ovarian cancer risk.

Conclusions: These results suggest that higher self-perceived risk may predict adherence difficulties to recommended surveillance in women attending a familial-genetic risk clinic.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment