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Psychooncology. 2000 Jan-Feb;9(1):69-78.

Stability and change in posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms following breast cancer treatment: a 1-year follow-up.

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  • 1Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY 40536-0086, USA.


While some recent research has examined the prevalence and severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-like symptoms following cancer treatment, no research has examined temporal change or stability in these symptoms in cancer survivors. Female breast cancer survivors (n=46) participated in an initial telephone interview and a follow-up interview 12 months later. PTSD symptoms associated with breast cancer were assessed using the PTSD Checklist-Civilian version (PCLC). In general, PTSD symptoms in this population did not diminish over time. While group analyses indicated that PCLC-total and subscale scores were stable across the two assessments, analyses of PCLC scores indicated that many patients exhibited fairly large (>0.5 S.D.) increases and/or decreases in PCLC-total or subscale scores. Some evidence suggested that decreases in PCLC scores between the two study assessments were associated with greater social support and experience of fewer traumatic stressors prior to breast cancer diagnosis. Most significantly, the research suggested that women with greater PTSD symptoms at the initial interview were less likely to participate in the follow-up interview. Implications of this for research and clinical management of PTSD in this population are discussed.

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