Patients with cancer experience high levels of anxiety during the diagnostic phase, according to a study published in Psycho-Oncology.

Previous studies have shown that patients report experiencing high anxiety during the course of disease and even after, but little research has been done to clarify the factors that may cause anxiety during the diagnostic and treatment planning phases for patients who are eventually found to have cancer.

For this study, researchers evaluated the outcomes of 81 patients with an initial diagnosis of cancer or had a high chance of developing malignancies. Eligible patients were given a questionnaire prior to their visit to the clinic and were asked to complete a second questionnaire upon completing the clinic visit. Patient anxiety levels were evaluated using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-6) assessment. Patients’ monitoring coping style was also evaluated.

Nearly 60% of patients reported feeling high levels of anxiety prior to consultation, with an anxiety score of 46.30. Results showed that anxiety decreased by 4.61 points (P =.002) after consultation, but 37% of patients still felt highly anxious.

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Patients who were determined to be of a high monitoring coping style and patients whose treatment plans did not include chemotherapy experienced reductions in anxiety. Patients who were high monitors who did not have chemotherapy included in their treatment experienced major reductions in anxiety, whereas patients who were low monitors that were prescribed chemotherapy experienced increases in anxiety levels.

The authors concluded that “investigating the implications of the diverse anxiety patterns for patient-provider interactions, information processing, and the efficacy of support tools (eg, preparatory websites) should be a further goal for research in future.”

Reference

Bronner MB, Nguyen MH, Smets EMA, van de Ven AWH, van Weert JCM. Anxiety during cancer diagnosis: examining the influence of monitoring coping style and treatment plan [published online October 26, 2017]. Psychooncol. doi: 10.1002/pon.4560