The purpose of this study was to analyze the psychological well-being, quality of life, and cognitive strategies activated by patients with high-grade glioma. We hypothesized that the self-perceived quality of life is modulated by physical and psychological factors and that in order to understand this modulation more psychometric approaches are necessary. Data were collected from a sample of 73 consecutive patients with a histological diagnosis of primary malignant brain cancer (grade IV glioblastoma and grade III anaplastic astrocytoma) hospitalized in a specialized Italian center. The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT) scale and the Schedule of Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life-Direct Weighting (SEIQoL-DW) scale were used to assess quality of life. The mean FACT-Brain (Br) score was 122.37. Similarly, the median SEIQoL-DW score was 72.9 out of a maximum value of 100. No gender effect was found in relation to overall quality of life. Patients with high depression and/or anxiety scores reported lower quality of life (QoL) scores in all the instruments considered. We did not find any gender effect concerning depression and anxiety levels. However, we found that men and women, though having similar physical and functional well-being, reported different QoL determinants, since men seem to rely more on physical adjustment, while women activate more introspective strategies. Positive actions, family issues, negative thoughts, health, and positive thoughts were found to be the most reported themes. In conclusion, the present study strongly suggests that a positive psychological adjustment is possible also in the event of a severe diagnosis and during aggressive treatments, but QoL determinants might be considered too in order to help health professionals to understand patients' experience and to meet their needs.
Keywords: Gender; High-grade glioma; Quality of life.