Prospective study of men's psychological and decision-related adjustment after treatment for localized prostate cancer

Urology. 2004 Apr;63(4):751-6. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2003.11.017.


Objectives: To undertake a prospective longitudinal study to assess psychological and decision-related distress after the diagnosis of localized prostate cancer.

Methods: A total of 111 men (93% response rate) with localized prostate cancer were recruited from outpatient urology clinics and urologists' private practices. More than one half (56%) elected to undergo radical prostatectomy, 19% underwent external beam radiotherapy, and 25% chose watchful waiting. Men completed self-report measures before treatment and 2 and 12 months after treatment. The measures used included the University of California, Los Angeles, Prostate Cancer Index, International Prostate Symptom Score, Impact of Events Scale, Constructed Meaning Scale, Satisfaction with Life Scale, Health Care Orientation subscale, and Decisional Conflict Scale.

Results: No statistically significant differences were found by medical treatment group in the psychological and decision-related adjustment at baseline or with time. Men who were undecided about their treatment choice had greater decisional conflict and a more negative healthcare orientation, but were not more psychologically distressed, compared with men who had decided. At diagnosis, 63% of men had high decision-related distress, and this persisted for 42% of men 12 months after treatment, despite high satisfaction with their treatment choice. At diagnosis, low-to-moderate psychological distress was most common, with distress decreasing after treatment. The overall quality of life was similar to community norms.

Conclusions: The results of our study indicated that men who were undecided about what treatment to receive experienced greater decision-related distress. The final treatment choice was not related to psychological distress about prostate cancer. Psychological and decision-related distress decreased with time, independent of treatment modality. Interventions should target decision-related distress for all men and in-depth psychological support for those who experience ongoing difficulties.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Decision Making*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Personality Inventory
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatectomy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal
  • Social Adjustment
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires