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. 2016 Oct;10(5):898-905.
doi: 10.1007/s11764-016-0536-5. Epub 2016 Mar 19.

Illness Perceptions Are Associated With Mortality Among 1552 Colorectal Cancer Survivors: A Study From the Population-Based PROFILES Registry

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Illness Perceptions Are Associated With Mortality Among 1552 Colorectal Cancer Survivors: A Study From the Population-Based PROFILES Registry

Melissa S Y Thong et al. J Cancer Surviv. .
Free PMC article


Purpose: Cancer survivors construct perceptions of illness as a (mal)adaptive mechanism. These perceptions motivate/drive subsequent self-management behaviors toward symptoms and treatment that influence health outcomes. Negative illness perceptions have been associated with increased mortality in other chronically ill groups. However, this association is under-researched in cancer survivors. We aimed to explore the association between illness perceptions and mortality in stage I-III progression-free colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors.

Methods: We used data from the population-based Patient Reported Outcomes Following Initial treatment and Long Term Evaluation of Survivorship (PROFILES) registry of two CRC survivorship studies conducted in 2009 and 2010. We accessed clinical data from the Netherlands Cancer Registry, and mortality data from municipal personal records database. Follow-up was until 31 December 2014. Survivors (n = 1552) completed the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire. Cox proportional hazard models estimated the association between illness perceptions and mortality.

Results: Negative illness perceptions on consequences (adjusted hazard ratio (HRadj) 1.60, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.14-2.25) and emotion (HRadj 1.65, 95 % CI 1.18-2.31) were associated with higher mortality, after adjusting for demographic, clinical, and lifestyle factors. Smoking and inadequate physical activity were independently associated with mortality for all Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (BIPQ) dimensions.

Conclusions: Survivors' perceptions of their illness are important as these perceptions may influence health outcomes during survivorship period. Clinical practice needs to identify and address maladaptive illness perceptions to support more adaptive self-management behaviors and enhance survivorship.

Implications for cancer survivors: Cancer survivors may benefit from interventions that address potentially maladaptive perceptions and encourage more adaptive self-management behaviors.

Keywords: Cancer; Illness perceptions; Mortality; Population-based; Survivors.

Conflict of interest statement

All authors declare no conflict of interest. Funding The present research is supported in part by a Social Psychology Fellowship from the Dutch Cancer Society to Melissa Thong (SJ401004) and a Cancer Research Award from the Dutch Cancer Society (#UVT-2009-4349) to Lonneke van de Poll-Franse. Data collection for this study was funded by the Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation, Eindhoven, Netherlands; the Center of Research on Psychology in Somatic diseases (CoRPS), Tilburg University, Netherlands; and an investment subsidy (#480-08-009) of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (The Hague, Netherlands). The funding sources were neither involved in the collection, interpretation, and analysis of the data, nor in the decision for the writing and submission of this report for publication. Ethical approval All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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