Psychological impact of diagnosis and risk reduction among cancer survivors.


Journal Article

Life-threatening health events prompt psychological distress that may motivate individuals to reduce health risks. If so, interventions timed to take advantage of these 'teachable moments' could be particularly effective. To explore this association, early stage prostate and breast cancer patients were identified from a hospital-based tumor registry within 6 years of diagnosis. These patients (n=920) completed a mailed survey assessing the Horowitz impact of events scale, risk behaviors and readiness to change the behaviors. Breast cancer patients, younger patients and those reporting poor health status reported the greatest impact of the cancer diagnosis. Impact was inversely associated with time from diagnosis for prostate, but not breast cancer patients. Prostate patients who reported exercising regularly had lower impact scores than those who were not exercising (medians: 0.13 vs 0.56, respectively; p=0.02). Breast patients who were eating five or more fruits and vegetables reported lower impact scores than those who were not eating the recommended servings (0.75 vs 1.06, respectively; p=0.03). Breast patients who were non-smokers reported lower impact scores than smokers (0.88 vs 1.31, respectively; p=0. 02). Prospective studies are needed to understand the psychological impact of cancer diagnosis and how it might facilitate or impede the adoption of health promoting behaviors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McBride, CM; Clipp, E; Peterson, BL; Lipkus, IM; Demark-Wahnefried, W

Published Date

  • September 2000

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 9 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 418 - 427

PubMed ID

  • 11038480

Pubmed Central ID

  • 11038480

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1099-1611

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1057-9249

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/1099-1611(200009/10)9:5<418::aid-pon474>;2-e


  • eng