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Patient Educ Couns. 2000 Jun;40(3):209-17.

Psychological distress two years after diagnosis of breast cancer: frequency and prediction.

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  • 1Department of Medical Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Van der Boechorststraat 7, D 342, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The present prospective study aimed at (1) investigating the frequency of high levels of psychological distress in women with early-stage breast cancer almost two years after diagnosis and (2) identifying characteristics associated with long-term distress. One hundred and seventy women participated on two occasions. Two months after surgery, patients completed questionnaires measuring psychosocial variables (e.g., stressful life-events, health complaints, sleep problems, social support, subjective distress, personality factors), demographic and biomedical variables (e.g., TNM status, type of surgery). At the second measurement, subjective distress was assessed for a second time by means of the Impact of Events Scale (IES). Almost two years after diagnosis, 16% of the women reported a high level of psychological distress as measured by the Intrusion scale (IES). Best predictors of a high level of distress were: intrusive thoughts about the disease, trait-anxiety, health complaints and problems with sleeping. No significant association was found between previous life-events, social support or biomedical variables and levels of distress.

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