Psychological distress among patients with lymphoma: the association with personality and coping strategies

Lindy P.J. Arts, Simone Oerlemans*, Dounya Schoormans, Arnate L.T.M. Sanders, Wendy B.C. Stevens, Eduardus F.M. Posthuma, Lidwine W. Tick, Lonneke V. van de Poll-Franse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Up to one-quarter of patients with lymphoma experience persisting levels of psychological distress. This study aims to examine the extent to which personality traits and coping strategies, separately and together, are associated with psychological distress among patients with lymphoma, controlling for sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.

A population-based sample of patients with lymphoma, selected from the Netherlands Cancer Registry (NCR), was invited to complete a questionnaire about psychological distress, personality, and coping strategies (Mental Adjustment to Cancer). Sociodemographic and clinical data were retrieved from the NCR. Multivariable linear regression models were constructed to assess the unique variance in psychological distress explained by personality traits and coping strategies separately and together.

A total of 456 patients completed the questionnaire (51%), the average age was 65 years, 64% were male, and 17% reported psychological distress. Of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, comorbidity (β = .14, P < .001) and age (β = −.10, P = .03) were independently associated with psychological distress. In addition, of personality traits, only neuroticism was related to psychological distress (neuroticism, β = .43, P < .001). Furthermore, the coping styles anxious preoccupation (β = .12, P = .01) and helplessness/hopelessness (β = .30, P < .001) were associated with more psychological distress, whereas avoidance was associated to less psychological distress (β = −.09, P = .01).

In conclusion, besides comorbidity and age, personality traits—in particular neuroticism—and the coping strategies helplessness/hopelessness, anxious preoccupation, and avoidance were significantly independently associated with psychological distress. Unlike personality, coping strategies are considered to be changeable and could be targeted by interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere041
JournalJournal of Psychosocial Oncology Research & Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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