A prospective study of posttraumatic growth as assessed by self-report and family caregiver in the context of advanced cancer



Objective: The study of posttraumatic growth (PTG) has burgeoned over the last decade, particularly in the area of oncology. The aims of the study were to: (1) describe PTG in patients with hepatobiliary carcinoma, (2) examine agreement between the patient and caregiver measures of patient PTG, and (3) test the associations between PTG and other psychological factors and clinically relevant outcomes.

Methods: Two hundred and two patients with hepatobiliary carcinoma completed a battery of standardized questionnaires that measured PTG, depressive symptoms, optimism, expressed emotion, and quality of life (QOL). A subsample of family caregivers also completed ratings of patient PTG, using the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), as well as their own PTG.

Results: No significant increase in the patients' PTG was observed between diagnosis and 6-month follow-up with the exception of the Relating to Others subscale of the PTGI. PTG was not found to be associated with QOL or depressive symptoms. At diagnosis, the agreement between the patients' PTG and family caregivers' rating of patient PTG was found to be high (ICC=0.34–0.74, p=0.001–0.05). PTG was found to be significantly associated with optimism (r=0.20 p=0.02–0.05) and traumatic life events reported in the past 3 years, including recent losses (F(1, 52)=6.0, p=0.02) and severe physical injury (F(1, 52)=5.5, p=0.02). Caregivers reported PTG as a result of their loved one's diagnosis of cancer.

Conclusion: Preliminary results suggest that PTG is relatively stable over the first 6 months after diagnosis and changes as a result of a diagnosis of cancer were reported, and possibly observed, by others. Family caregivers also experience PTG as a result of their loved one's diagnosis of advanced cancer. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.