Objective: In this article, we aim to (a) identify distinct trajectories of psychological distress in the first year after a breast cancer diagnosis in women treated with adjuvant therapy and (b) explore possible predictors of these trajectories, that is, demographic, medical, and personal characteristics.
Method: The 171 patients were assessed after diagnosis, after surgery, after adjuvant treatment, in the reentry phase, and in the (short-term) survivorship phase (2 and 6 months after the end of treatment, respectively).
Main outcome measure: Psychological distress was assessed with the 12-item General Health Questionnaire.
Results: There were four trajectories of distress: a group that experienced no distress (36.3%), a group that experienced distress only in the active treatment phase (33.3%), a group that experienced distress in the reentry and survivorship phase (15.2%), and a group that experienced chronic distress (15.2%). Personality and physical complaints resulting from adjuvant treatment could distinguish the distress trajectories. Mastery was the only unique predictor.
Conclusion: Most patients were not distressed in response to breast cancer or only temporarily so. Yet, a minority of patients became or remained distressed after the end of treatment.
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