Psychological distress in long-term survivors of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

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The prevalence of psychological distress is higher in cancers with poorer prognoses and speculated as higher in those receiving more aversive treatments. Since hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) is one of the most taxing cancer treatments to endure and is therefore likely to have more long-term sequelae, this study examined psychological distress symptoms in long-term HSCT survivors who were at least 1 year post-transplant. Participants in this cross-sectional study were recruited from urban medical centers as part of a larger study of HSCT survivors. The sample comprised 236 adults who were on average 3.4 years since transplant. Psychological distress was measured by a commonly used self-report questionnaire, the Brief Symptom Inventory.Clinically elevated psychological distress caseness was present in 43% of long-term HSCT survivors. Elevations were highest on clinical subscales of obsessive-compulsiveness, somatization, and psychoticism. However, item-level analyses revealed that the content of the most frequently reported symptoms included trouble with memory and feelings of loneliness. Results of this study suggest that HSCT survivors may experience memory and existential concerns and that such symptoms may not represent psychiatric sequelae.

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