Stress and long-term survivors of brain cancer.
INTRODUCTION: Adult brain tumor patients are joining the ranks of cancer survivors in increasing numbers in the United States. As a result, health care providers are faced with new challenges to address the need for psychosocial support in this population. METHODS: Using the Perceived Stress Scale and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network's Distress Thermometer, levels of stress and cancer-related items of concern were assessed in adult long-term survivors of brain cancer. RESULTS: Sixty-one percent of the sample population experienced elevated levels of stress. Scores were not significantly associated with age, gender, treatment status, or tumor grade. Long-term survivors were just as likely to report being stressed (chi(2) = 0.032, NS), while reporting fewer numbers of items of concern (5.02, SD = 3.509), compared to brain tumor patients diagnosed 18 months (M = 6.82, SD = 3.737, t = 2.467, p 0.05). DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION: Despite their long-term survival status, long-term survivors of brain cancer continue to experience elevated levels of stress. Predictors of stress in this population are related to familial, emotional, and practical concerns. While the scientific community continues to examine the specific impact of stress on both the physical and mental outcomes of cancer patients, understanding the sources of stress within cancer populations is key in designing targeted interventions to help patients manage the stress associated with this disease. IMPLICATIONS FOR BRAIN TUMOR SURVIVORS: This study provides a better understanding of the unique needs of long-term survivors of brain cancer. An awareness of the sources and levels of stress experienced by this population could lead to the development of effective supportive care interventions to improve the quality of life of the survivor.
Keir, ST; Swartz, JJ; Friedman, HS
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