Background: Psychological distress in cancer survivors can be detrimental to treatment adherence and self-care tasks and is associated with poor health behaviors and decreased overall quality of life. The prevalence, course, and predictors of psychological distress after the diagnosis of colorectal cancer are to date not well described.
Methods: A prospective survey of 1822 colorectal cancer patients was undertaken assessing psychological distress and hypothesized predictors including optimism, cancer threat appraisal, social support, and physical activity at 6 and 12 months postdiagnosis. Logistic regression identified correlates of psychological distress at 12 months postdiagnosis.
Results: The prevalence of global psychological distress was low: 8.3% and 6.7% at 6 and 12 months postdiagnosis, respectively. When baseline measures of independent variables were included in a logistic regression model, distress at 6 months postdiagnosis (odds ratio [OR]=10.84), comorbidities (OR=1.64), optimism (OR=0.93), cancer threat appraisal (OR=0.92), and social support (OR=0.94) were significantly associated with distress at 12 months postdiagnosis. A second logistic regression model that included concurrent measures of cancer threat appraisal, social support, and physical activity found that distress at 6 months postdiagnosis (OR=12.49), comorbidities (OR=1.64), optimism (OR=0.94), and concurrent cancer threat appraisal (OR=0.85) were significantly associated with distress at 12 months postdiagnosis.
Conclusions: Distress screening at regular intervals is needed to efficiently detect colorectal cancer patients who require in-depth psychological intervention. Threat appraisal is a modifiable variable that should be included in interventions for colorectal cancer survivors. Further research is needed to investigate the potential for physical activity to reduce distress after cancer.
Copyright (c) 2008 American Cancer Society.