Socioeconomic disparities in psychosocial wellbeing in cancer patients

Eur J Cancer. 2008 Mar;44(4):572-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2007.12.013. Epub 2008 Jan 24.


This study tested the hypothesis that cancer patients from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds have poorer adjustment to cancer. In a longitudinal study of 352 patients with breast, prostate or colorectal cancer, SES was indexed as a composite of educational level, car and home ownership. Patients were classified as higher (3 markers: car, home and higher education) or lower (up to 2 markers) SES. Patients completed measures of depression, anxiety, quality-of-life, social difficulties and benefit-finding at 2 months (Time 1) and 10 months (Time 2) after diagnosis. Data on disease stage, treatment and co-morbid illness were also collected. At Time 1, lower SES patients were more anxious and depressed and had worse quality-of-life and more social difficulties. Psychological wellbeing improved on all measures by follow-up, and although not significant, the trend was towards diminishing, rather than increasing, differences in wellbeing between higher and lower SES groups. Acute psychosocial reactions to a cancer diagnosis appeared to be greater amongst patients with fewer educational and material resources, but longer-term adjustment did not appear to be any worse in lower SES patients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Depression / etiology
  • Educational Status
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Social Class*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology