Moderators of cancer-related distress and worry after a pancreatic cancer genetic counseling and screening intervention

Psychooncology. 2012 Dec;21(12):1324-30. doi: 10.1002/pon.2026. Epub 2011 Jul 20.


Objectives: Although the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer literature has demonstrated short-term gains in psychological adjustment following genetic counseling, there has been limited research examining long-term outcomes and moderators. Moreover, there has been minimal research into the psychological effects of this intervention in populations at high risk for pancreatic cancer. This study examines the long-term effects of pancreatic cancer screening and genetic counseling on cancer-related distress and cancer worry in a high-risk population at 1-year follow-up. Additionally, this study explores potential moderators of the effectiveness of this intervention.

Methods: One hundred twenty-nine participants with familial pancreatic cancer or with the BRCA2 gene mutation completed a baseline questionnaire prior to their first pancreatic cancer screening and genetic counseling session. Participants also completed questionnaires at 3- and 12-month follow-up.

Results: Cancer-related intrusive thoughts decreased significantly over time, whereas cancer-related worry decreased at 3 months and showed a small but significant increase at 1 year. Age and baseline distress exhibited moderator effects. Younger individuals showed a significant decrease in cancer-related intrusive thoughts, cancer-related avoidant thoughts, and cancer worry. Additionally, individuals with greater baseline distress showed a significant decrease in cancer-related intrusive thoughts over time.

Conclusions: Analysis of the long-term effects of pancreatic cancer screening and genetic testing reveal psychological gains that are maintained at 1-year follow-up. This intervention is particularly effective for younger participants and individuals with greater baseline distress.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / psychology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Early Detection of Cancer / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Counseling / psychology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / psychology
  • Perception
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires