Moderators of cancer-related distress and worry after a pancreatic cancer genetic counseling and screening intervention

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Abstract

Objectives:

Although the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer literature has demonstrated short-term gains in psychological adjustment following genetic counseling, there has been limited research examining long-term outcomes and moderators. Moreover, there has been minimal research into the psychological effects of this intervention in populations at high risk for pancreatic cancer. This study examines the long-term effects of pancreatic cancer screening and genetic counseling on cancer-related distress and cancer worry in a high-risk population at 1-year follow-up. Additionally, this study explores potential moderators of the effectiveness of this intervention.

Methods:

One hundred twenty-nine participants with familial pancreatic cancer or with the BRCA2 gene mutation completed a baseline questionnaire prior to their first pancreatic cancer screening and genetic counseling session. Participants also completed questionnaires at 3- and 12-month follow-up.

Results:

Cancer-related intrusive thoughts decreased significantly over time, whereas cancer-related worry decreased at 3 months and showed a small but significant increase at 1 year. Age and baseline distress exhibited moderator effects. Younger individuals showed a significant decrease in cancer-related intrusive thoughts, cancer-related avoidant thoughts, and cancer worry. Additionally, individuals with greater baseline distress showed a significant decrease in cancer-related intrusive thoughts over time.

Conclusions:

Analysis of the long-term effects of pancreatic cancer screening and genetic testing reveal psychological gains that are maintained at 1-year follow-up. This intervention is particularly effective for younger participants and individuals with greater baseline distress. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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