Explaining age-related differences in depression following breast cancer diagnosis and treatment

Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd, Winston-Salem, NC, 27157, USA, .
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (Impact Factor: 3.94). 10/2012; 136(2). DOI: 10.1007/s10549-012-2277-0
Source: PubMed


Younger women with breast cancer consistently show greater psychological distress than older women. This study examined a range of factors that might explain these age differences. A total of 653 women within 8 months of a first-time breast cancer diagnosis provided data on patient characteristics, symptoms, and psychosocial variables. Chart reviews provided cancer and treatment-related data. The primary outcome was depressive symptomatology assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory. A succession of models that built hierarchically upon each other was used to determine which variables could account for age group differences in depression. Model 1 contained age group only. Models 2-5 successively added patient characteristics, cancer-related variables, symptoms, and psychosocial variables. As expected, in the unadjusted analysis (Model 1) younger women were significantly more likely to report depressive symptomatology than older women (p < 0.0001). Age remained significantly related to depression until Model 4 which added bodily pain and vasomotor symptoms (p = 0.24; R (2) = 0.27). The addition of psychosocial variables in Model 5 also resulted in a model in which age was nonsignificant (p = 0.49; R (2) = 0.49). Secondary analyses showed that illness intrusiveness (the degree that illness intrudes on specific areas of life such as work, sex life, recreation, etc.) was the only variable which, considered individually with age, made the age group-depression association nonsignificant. Age differences in risk of depression following a breast cancer diagnosis can be explained by the impact of cancer and its treatment on specific areas of a woman's life.

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Available from: Nancy E Avis, Oct 15, 2014
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    • "Thus, early on in the cancer trajectory, age can be considered as a crucial precursor of patients' distress based mainly on deficits in knowledge, which then leads to lack of confidence in coping efficacy and distress. This sequelae of effects could be contrasted with past literature, which showed that younger age was related to greater distress (e.g.,Van't Spijker, Trijsburg & Duivenvoorden, 1997; Avis et al., 2012; Mertz et al., 2012). However, this could be explained hypothesizing that the relationship between age and distress is strictly dependent by the influence of a third variable, namely the level of knowledge, which is strictly dependent by the cultural context. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background. The diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of cancer can present individuals with a multitude of stressors at various points in that trajectory. Psychosocial distress may appear early in the diagnostic process and have negative effects on compliance with treatment and subsequent quality of life. Purpose. The aim of the study was to determine early-phase predictors of distress before any medical treatment. Method. Consistent with the goals of the study, 123 newly diagnosed breast cancer patients (20 to 74 years old) completed multiple indicators of knowledge about breast cancer management and treatment, attitudes toward cancer, social support, coping efficacy, and distress. Results. SEM analysis confirmed the hypothesized model. Age was negatively associated with the patient's knowledge (β = −0.22), which, in turn, was positively associated with both attitudes toward breast cancer (β = 0.39) and coping self-efficacy (β = 0.36). Self-efficacy was then directly related to psychological distress (β = −0.68). Conclusions. These findings establish indicators of distress in patients early in the cancer trajectory. From a practical perspective, our results have implications for screening for distress and for the development of early interventions that may be followed by healthcare professionals to reduce psychological distress.
    PeerJ 07/2015; 3(7). DOI:10.7717/peerj.1107 · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Younger women being treated for breast cancer consistently show greater depression shortly after diagnosis than older women. In this longitudinal study, we examine whether these age differences persist over the first 26 months following diagnosis and identify factors related to change in depressive symptoms. A total of 653 women within 8 months of a first time breast cancer diagnosis completed questionnaires at baseline and three additional timepoints (6, 12, and 18 months after baseline) on contextual/patient characteristics, symptoms, and psychosocial variables. Chart reviews provided cancer and treatment-related data. The primary outcome was depressive symptomatology assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory. Among women younger than age 65, depressive symptoms were highest soon after diagnosis and significantly decreased over time. Depressive symptoms remained stable and low for women aged 65 and older. Age was no longer significantly related to depressive symptoms in multivariable analyses controlling for a wide range of covariates. The primary factors related to levels of and declines in depressive symptomatology were the ability to pay for basics; completing chemotherapy with doxorubicin; and decreases in pain, vasomotor symptoms, illness intrusiveness, and passive coping. Increased sense of meaning/peace and social support were related to decreased depression. Interventions to reduce symptoms and illness intrusiveness, improve a sense of meaning and peace, and increase social support, may help reduce depression and such interventions may be especially relevant for younger women.
    Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 04/2013; 139(1). DOI:10.1007/s10549-013-2513-2 · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To identify trajectories of illness intrusiveness over the first 2 years after a breast cancer diagnosis and describe associated patient and treatment characteristics. Illness intrusiveness, or how much an illness disrupts life domains, has been shown to be highly related to quality of life. Methods: Women recruited within 8 months of a breast cancer diagnosis (n = 653) completed questionnaires at baseline and 6, 12, and 18 months postbaseline. Group-based trajectory modeling was used to identify trajectories in three established domains of illness intrusiveness: instrumental, intimacy, and relationships and personal development. Bivariate analyses identified contextual, disease/treatment, psychological, and social characteristics of women in trajectory groups. Results: Forty-one percent of women fell into a trajectory of consistently low illness intrusiveness (Low) across all three domains. Other women varied such that some reported illness intrusiveness that decreased over time on at least one domain (9-34%), and others reported consistently high intrusiveness on at least one domain (11-17%). A fourth trajectory of increased illness intrusiveness emerged in the relationship and personal development domain (9%). Characteristics of women in the Low group were being older; being less likely to have children at home; and having stage I cancer, fewer symptoms, and better psychosocial status. Conclusions: Women experienced different patterns of illness intrusiveness in the first 2 years after a diagnosis of breast cancer with a high percentage reporting Low intrusiveness. However, women differentially followed the other trajectory patterns by domain, suggesting that the effect of breast cancer on some women's lives may be specific to certain areas.
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