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Depression, anxiety and positive affect in people diagnosed with low-grade tumours: the role of illness perceptions

Melanie Keeling, Jacki Bambrough, Jane Simpson
Psycho-oncology 2013, 22 (6): 1421-7
22991130

OBJECTIVE: People with low-grade brain tumour experience a range of emotional, behavioural and psychosocial consequences. Using Leventhal's self-regulation model to explore biopsychosocial factors associated with distress, we examine the relationships between illness perceptions, coping and depression, anxiety and positive affect.

METHODS: A cross-sectional, self-report study in which 74 people (54% women) diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour completed the Illness Perceptions Questionnaire-Revised was conducted. Mean time since diagnosis was 27.69 months (SD = 19.79). Mean age was 38.30 years (SD = 10.67). The Illness Perceptions Questionnaire-Revised, in addition to clinical, demographic and coping variables previously associated with psychological distress, was used to predict three psychological outcomes: depression, anxiety and positive affect.

RESULTS: Hierarchical multiple regression analyses demonstrated that a biopsychosocial causal attribution was a significant predictor of anxiety and depression. Illness identity also emerged as a significant predictor of depression scores. Coping through self-blame was the only coping variable to emerge as a significant predictor of anxiety scores. A combination of coping through venting, acceptance, positive reframing, denial, behavioural disengagement and self-blame contributed to the variance in all three psychological outcome scores. No illness perception variables significantly predicted positive affect.

CONCLUSIONS: Illness perceptions play a significant role in emotional distress experienced by people with low-grade brain tumours. Illness perceptions did not play a significant role in positive affect. Coping variables were shown to significantly contribute to the scores on all three psychological outcomes. Results suggest interventions targeted at modifying illness perceptions and enhancing problem-focused coping strategies may reduce psychological distress.

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