Objective: Research suggests that cancer patients who are more involved in treatment decision-making (TDM) report better quality of life following treatment. This study examines the association and possible mechanisms between prostate cancer patient's discussions about TDM and affect following treatment. We predicted that the length of time patients spent discussing treatment options with social networks and physicians prior to treatment would predict emotional adjustment after treatment. We further predicted that cognitive processing, coping, and patient understanding of treatment options would mediate this association.
Methods: Fifty-seven patients completed questionnaires prior to treatment and at 1 and 6 months following treatment completion.
Results: Findings from the present study suggest that discussing treatment options with others, prior to beginning treatment for prostate cancer, significantly contributed to improvements in affect 1 and 6 months following treatment. Residualized regression analyses indicated that discussing treatment options with patient's social networks predicted a decrease in negative affect 1 and 6 months following treatment, while discussions with physicians predicted an increase in positive affect 1 month following treatment. Patients who spent more time discussing treatment options with family and friends also reported greater pre-treatment social support and emotional expression. Mediation analyses indicated that these coping strategies facilitated cognitive processing (as measured by a decrease in intrusive thoughts) and that cognitive processing predicted improvement in affect.
Conclusions: Greater time spent talking with family and friends about treatment options may provide opportunities for patients to cope with their cancer diagnosis and facilitate cognitive processing, which may improve patient distress over time. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.