Post-traumatic Stress Symptoms in Cancer Survivors

Relationship to the Impact of Cancer Scale and Other Associated Risk Factors

Published In: Psycho-Oncology, v. 24, no. 6, June 2015, p. 643-652

Posted on RAND.org on July 07, 2015

by Erin E. Hahn, Ron D. Hays, Katherine L. Kahn, Mark Litwin, Patricia A. Ganz

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PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of post-traumatic stress symptoms in a sample of cancer survivors and to investigate their association with the impact of cancer, depressive symptoms, and social support. METHODS: We administered a survey to participants in a cancer survivor registry. It included: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Civilian version (PCL-C), Impact of Cancer Scale (IOC) v.2, and measures of social support, income, and long-term effects of cancer. We performed multivariate analyses to estimate associations between PCL-C and other variables. PCL-C score was examined as a continuous dependent variable and categorically. RESULTS: Responses were available from 162 cancer survivors. Mean age was 51 years (standard deviation (SD) 16); mean time since diagnosis was 11 years (SD 10). Mean PCL-C score was 27 (SD 9, range 17–64); 29% of the sample scored 30 and above, 13% scored 38 and above, 7% scored 44 and above. Linear regression indicated that PCL-C scores were significantly associated with the IOC negative impact summary scale (NIS) (p < 0.001), depressive symptoms (p = 0.003), less social support (p = 0.02), and lower income (p = 0.03). NIS subscale analyses showed that two subscales, life interference (LI) and worry (W), were significantly correlated with PCL-C score (LI: p < 0.001; W: p = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS: In this study, the IOC NIS was associated with endorsement of PTSD symptoms. Assessing survivors for PTSD symptoms with the PCL-C could detect those individuals in need of psychosocial support. The IOC may be useful for identifying target areas for interventions to reduce these symptoms among cancer survivors.

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