Psychological characteristics and subjective symptoms as determinants of psychological distress in patients prior to breast cancer diagnosis

Noriko Ando, Yumi Iwamitsu, Masaru Kuranami, Shigemi Okazaki, Mei Wada, Kenji Yamamoto, Keiko Todoroki, Masahiko Watanabe, Hitoshi Miyaoka
Supportive Care in Cancer 2009, 17 (11): 1361-70

GOALS OF WORK: The objective of this study was to determine how psychological characteristics, subjective symptoms, a family history of breast cancer, and age impact psychological distress in outpatients at the first hospital visit prior to breast cancer diagnosis.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Participants were prediagnosed women with complaints of breast symptoms who either came to our hospital directly, or with a referral from another clinic. Patients were asked to complete questionnaires to determine the following: trait anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory), negative emotional suppression (Courtauld Emotional Control Scale), life stress events (Life Experiences Survey), and psychological distress (Profile of Mood States). We examined subjective symptoms (lumps, pain, abnormal nipple discharge, or deformed nipple) and family history of breast cancer based on answers to the interview sheet filled out by patients on their first visit. We analyzed a total of 154 patients who completed the questionnaires out of 237 eligible patients.

MAIN RESULTS: A significant model was obtained by multiple regression analysis (adjusted R (2) = 0.574, p < 0.01) in which the standard partial regression coefficients for trait anxiety, suppression of anxiety, negative life change events, positive life change events, and subjective symptoms were statistically significant (beta = 0.623, 0.133, 0.155, 0.108, and 0.124, respectively; p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Psychological distress prior to diagnosis was higher in patients who had high trait anxiety, suppression of anxiety, many life stress events, and subjective symptoms. In particular, trait anxiety had a large impact on psychological distress, underscoring the need for and importance of adequate psychological care.

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