Social-cognitive processes associated with fear of recurrence among women newly diagnosed with gynecological cancers

Gynecol Oncol. 2013 Jan;128(1):120-127. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2012.10.014. Epub 2012 Oct 23.


Objective: This cross sectional study aimed to characterize fears of recurrence among women newly diagnosed with gynecologic cancer. The study also evaluated models predicting the impact of recurrence fears on psychological distress through social and cognitive variables.

Methods: Women (N=150) who participated in a randomized clinical trial comparing a coping and communication intervention to a supportive counseling intervention to usual care completed baseline surveys that were utilized for the study. The survey included the Concerns about Recurrence Scale (CARS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Impact of Event Scale (IES), and measures of social (holding back from sharing concerns and negative responses from family and friends) and cognitive (positive reappraisal, efficacy appraisal, and self-esteem appraisal) variables. Medical data was obtained via medical chart review.

Results: Moderate-to-high levels of recurrence fears were reported by 47% of the women. Younger age (p<.01) and functional impairment (p<.01) correlated with greater recurrence fears. A social-cognitive model of fear of recurrence and psychological distress was supported. Mediation analyses indicated, that as a set, the social and cognitive variables mediated the association between fear of recurrence and both depression and cancer-specific distress. Holding back and self-esteem showed the strongest mediating effects.

Conclusion: Fears of recurrence are prevalent among women newly diagnosed with gynecologic cancer. Social and cognitive factors play a role in women's adaptation to fears and impact overall psychological adjustment. These factors may be appropriate targets for intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cognition*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / psychology*