Assessing the relationship between fear of cancer recurrence and health care utilization in early-stage breast cancer survivors.


Journal Article

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine whether fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is associated with greater health care utilization (HCU) in early-stage breast cancer survivors. METHODS: Three hundred early-stage breast cancer survivors diagnosed within the past 7 years reported on FCR as well as calls and visits to oncology providers and primary care providers during the preceding 3 months. Participants also reported on use of mental health services and psychotropic medications since diagnosis. Structural equation modeling was used to create a latent FCR factor and evaluate this factor as a predictor of various HCU outcomes controlling for age at diagnosis, years since diagnosis, generalized anxiety, objective risk of recurrence, and number of comorbidities. RESULTS: FCR predicted more visits to both oncology providers (RR = 1.53, p = .002) and primary care providers (RR = 1.31, p = .013), as well as more phone calls to oncology providers (RR = 2.08, p = .007). FCR was not a significant predictor of phone calls to primary care providers (RR = 1.39, p = .054), utilization of mental health treatment (OR = 1.27, p = .362), or use of psychotropic medications (OR = 1.37, p = .178). CONCLUSIONS: FCR was associated with increases in some types of HCU, which may reflect excessive medical reassurance-seeking and lead to unnecessary medical costs. IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: FCR is a serious concern that warrants greater attention to reduce distress-related health care utilization. Utilization of mental health services to address FCR may represent higher-value health care.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Otto, AK; Soriano, EC; Siegel, SD; LoSavio, ST; Laurenceau, J-P

Published Date

  • December 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 12 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 775 - 785

PubMed ID

  • 30341560

Pubmed Central ID

  • 30341560

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-2267

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11764-018-0714-8


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States