Uncertainty and psychological adjustment in patients with lung cancer

Authors


Correspondence to: Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, 3620 McClintock Ave., SGM-501, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061. E-mail: meyerow@usc.edu

Abstract

Background

For many patients with lung cancer, disease progression occurs without notice or with vague symptoms, and unfortunately, most treatments are not curative. Given this unpredictability, we hypothesized the following: (1) poorer psychological adjustment (specifically, more depressive symptoms, higher perceptions of stress, and poorer emotional well-being) would be associated with higher intolerance for uncertainty, higher perceived illness-related ambiguity, and their interaction; and (2) greater avoidance would mediate associations between higher intolerance of uncertainty and poorer psychological adjustment.

Methods

Participants (N = 49) diagnosed with lung cancer at least 6 months prior to enrollment completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression Scale, the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy – Lung Emotional Well-being subscale, the Perceived Stress scale, the Intolerance of Uncertainty scale, the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale Ambiguity subscale, the Impact of Event – Revised Avoidance subscale, and the Short-scale Eysenck Personality Questionnaire – Revised Neuroticism subscale. Mean age was 64.2 years (standard deviation [SD] = 11.0), mean years of education was 15.6 (SD = 3.1), and 71.4% were female. Hypotheses were tested with regression analyses, adjusted for neuroticism.

Results

Higher perceptions of stress and poorer emotional well-being were associated with higher levels of intolerance of uncertainty and higher perceived illness-related ambiguity. Non-somatic depressive symptoms were associated with higher levels of intolerance of uncertainty. Avoidance was found to mediate relations of intolerance of uncertainty with non-somatic depressive symptoms and emotional well-being only.

Conclusions

Findings suggest that interventions to address avoidance and intolerance of uncertainty in individuals with lung cancer may help improve psychological adjustment. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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