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Keywords:

  • pediatric oncology;
  • posttraumatic stress;
  • survival;
  • young adults

Abstract

Background

Posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were assessed in young adult survivors of childhood cancer, including the role of four sets of variables in understanding PTSD in this population: demographic characteristics, disease and treatment factors, psychosocial and functional outcomes, and cancer-related beliefs.

Procedure

One hundred eighty-two survivors of pediatric malignancies, ages 18–37 years old completed a psychiatric interview and self-report measures. Survivors were ≥5 years from diagnosis and ≥2 years from the completion of cancer treatment for a variety of cancers.

Results

Nearly 16% of the sample had PTSD. Most survivors reported re-experiencing symptoms. There were no significant differences between survivors with and without PTSD on demographic or disease and treatment variables. Survivors with PTSD reported more psychological problems and negative beliefs about their illness and health status than those without PTSD. A logistic regression model predicted 50% of the variance in PTSD.

Conclusions

PTSD affects a subset of young adult cancer survivors. These survivors experience more psychological problems in general. Beliefs about the cancer experience are more potent predictors of PTSD than demographic or disease and treatment factors. Screening for PTSS and PTSD in cancer survivors is recommended. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2007;49:177–182. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.