Impact of Psychological Distress on Prostate Cancer Screening in U.S. Military Veterans

Am J Mens Health. 2014 Sep;8(5):399-408. doi: 10.1177/1557988313516357. Epub 2013 Dec 20.


The benefit of routine prostate cancer screening is currently under debate; however, many experts recommend that men with elevated risk for the disease discuss the potential risks and benefits of screening with their health care team. Psychological factors have been negatively associated with preventive health behaviors such as cancer screenings. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of depressive and trauma-related symptoms on prostate cancer screening behaviors and relevant health care perceptions among a sample of U.S. military veterans, as veterans are at higher risk for prostate cancer, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder than the general population. Participants (n = 350) were a national sample of predominantly Caucasian (84.6%) male U.S. military veterans (60.5 years ± 8.9) who completed an online questionnaire regarding past prostate cancer screening engagement, as well as validated measures of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and perceived barriers and benefits to prostate cancer screening. Results indicate that greater depressive symptoms, trauma-related symptoms, and perceived barriers were associated with lower rates of past prostate cancer screening among this veteran sample and that greater depressive and trauma-related symptoms were associated with greater perceived barriers to prostate cancer screening. As prostate cancer screening recommendations continue to evolve, it is important for health care providers not only to discuss pros and cons of screening with high risk men but also to consider the impact of psychological distress on the decision-making process.

Keywords: PTSD; barriers; depression; prostate cancer; screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Veterans / psychology*