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Medical, demographic and psychological correlates of fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) morbidity in breast, colorectal and melanoma cancer survivors with probable clinically significant FCR seeking psychological treatment through the ConquerFear study

journal contribution
posted on 2018-12-01, 00:00 authored by A Smith, L Sharpe, B Thewes, J Turner, J Gilchrist, J E Fardell, A Girgis, S Tesson, J Descallar, M L Bell, J Beith, P Butow, L Beatty, B Bennett, R Brebach, C Brock, S Butler, D Byrne, S Day, J Diggens, A Fairclough, T Faulkner, M Ftanou, M Grier, G Hill, T Jones, L Kirsten, S McConaghey, S McKinnon, Cathy Mihalopoulos, S Mireskandari, T Musiello, J Penhale, A Pollard, A Rangganadhan, M Scealy, M Scott, Ting-Fang Shih, M Teoh, K Tiller, P Watt
Purpose: Despite the prevalence of fear of cancer recurrence (FCR), understanding of factors underlying clinically significant FCR is limited. This study examined factors associated with greater FCR morbidity, according to a cognitive processing model, in cancer survivors who screened positively for clinically significant FCR seeking psychological treatment through the ConquerFear trial. Methods: Participants had completed treatment for breast, colorectal or melanoma cancer 2 months to 5 years previously and scored ≥ 13/36 on the Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory-Short Form (FCRI-SF). Hierarchical regression analyses examined associations between demographic, medical and psychological variables, namely metacognitions (MCQ-30), post-traumatic stress symptoms (IES-R) and FCR (FCRI total score). Results: Two hundred and ten (95%) of the 222 cancer survivors who consented to the ConquerFear trial completed the baseline questionnaire. Participants were predominantly (89%) breast cancer survivors. The final regression model accounted for 68% of the variance in FCR (demographic and medical variables 13%, metacognitions 26%, post-traumatic stress symptoms 28%). Negative metacognitive beliefs about worry and intrusive post-traumatic stress symptoms were significant individual correlates of FCR, but negative beliefs about worry did not significantly moderate the impact of intrusions on FCR morbidity. Conclusions: Results provide partial support for the cognitive processing model of FCR. Psychological factors were found to play an important role in FCR morbidity after controlling for demographic/medical factors. More intrusive thoughts and negative beliefs about worry were strong independent predictors of FCR morbidity. Cancer survivors with clinically significant FCR may benefit from assessment for intrusive thoughts and metacognitions and delivery of trauma- and/or metacognitive-based interventions accordingly.



Supportive care in cancer






4207 - 4216




Berlin, Germany







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature