Benefit finding trajectories in cancer patients receiving psychological care: Predictors and relations to depressive and anxiety symptoms

Lei Zhu, Adelita V. Ranchor, Vicki S. Helgeson, Marije Van Der Lee, Bert Garssen, Roy E. Stewart, Robbert Sanderman, Maya J. Schroevers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives
This study aimed to (1) identify benefit finding trajectories in cancer patients receiving psychological care; (2) examine associations of benefit finding trajectories with levels of and changes in psychological symptoms; and (3) examine whether socio‐demographic and medical characteristics distinguished trajectories.

Design
Naturalistic longitudinal study design.

Methods
Participants were 241 cancer patients receiving psychological care at specialized psycho‐oncological institutions in the Netherlands. Data were collected before starting psychological care, and three and 9 months thereafter. Latent class growth analysis was performed to identify benefit finding trajectories.

Results
Five benefit finding trajectories were identified: ‘high level‐stable’ (8%), ‘very low level‐small increase’ (16%), ‘low level‐small increase’ (39%), ‘low level‐large increase’ (9%), and ‘moderate level‐stable’ (28%). People in distinct benefit finding trajectories reported significant differential courses of depression but not of anxiety symptoms. Compared with the other four trajectories, people in the ‘low level‐large increase’ trajectory reported the largest decreases in depression over time. Perceptions of cancer prognosis distinguished these trajectories, such that people with a favourable prognosis were more likely to belong to the ‘high level‐stable’ trajectory, while people perceiving an uncertain prognosis were more likely to belong to the ‘low level‐large increase’ trajectory of benefit finding.

Conclusions
Cancer patients showed distinct benefit finding trajectories during psychological care. A small proportion reporting a large increase in benefit finding were also most likely to show decreases in depressive symptoms over time. These findings suggest a relation between perceiving benefits from cancer experience and improved psychological functioning in cancer patients receiving psychological care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-252
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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