Women With Breast Cancer: Self-Reported Distress in Early Survivorship

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Abstract

Purpose/Objectives:

To identify and compare levels of distress and sources of problems among patients with breast cancer in early survivorship.

Design:

Descriptive, cross-sectional.

Setting:

A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.

Sample:

100 breast cancer survivors were selected to represent four time points in the cancer trajectory.

Methods:

Distress was self-reported using the Distress Thermometer and its 38-item problem list. Analysis of variance and chi-square analyses were performed as appropriate.

Main Research Variables:

Distress scores, problem reports, and time groups.

Findings:

Participants scored in range of the cutoff of more than 4 (range = 4.1-5.1) from treatment through three months post-treatment. At six months post-treatment, distress levels were significantly lower. Significant differences were found between groups on the total problem list score (p = 0.007) and emotional (p = 0.01) and physical subscale scores (p = 0.003).

Conclusions:

Comparison of groups at different points in the cancer trajectory found similar elevated levels from diagnosis through three months. Distress remained elevated in early survivorship but significantly decreased at six months post-treatment.

Implications for Nursing:

Interventions to reduce or prevent distress may improve outcomes in early survivorship.

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