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Correlates of post-traumatic stress symptoms and growth in cancer patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Shand, L.K., Cowlishaw, S., Brooker, J.E., Burney, S., Ricciardelli, L.A.

Psycho-Oncology, 2015 June, 24 (6), pp. 624-634 


The aim of this study is to examine the relationships among demographic, medical, and psychosocial factors and post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and post-traumatic growth (PTG) in oncology populations.

A systematic search identified k = 116 relevant studies published between 1990 and 2012. Meta-analyses synthesized results from studies that reported data on correlates of PTSS (k = 26) or PTG (k = 48). A meta-analysis was performed for k = 5 studies reporting the correlation between PTSS and PTG.

Post-traumatic stress symptoms were associated with depression (r = 0.56), anxiety (r = 0.65), distress (r = 0.62), social support (r = -0.33), and physical quality of life (r = -0.44). PTG was associated with age (r = -0.08), gender (r = -0.15), distress (r = -0.16), depression (r = -0.06), social support (r = 0.30), optimism (r = 0.27), positive reappraisal (r = 0.46), spirituality (r = 0.33), and religious coping (r = 0.36). There was a small positive relationship between PTSS and PTG (r = 0.13).

Post-traumatic stress symptoms and PTG appear to be independent constructs, rather than opposite ends of a single dimension. This is reflected in a small relationship between these variables and different psychosocial correlates. PTSS were strongly associated with variables reflecting a general state of negative affect. Optimism, spirituality, and positive coping styles were associated with PTG. It remains unclear how they are associated with PTSS, given the lack of relevant studies. Longitudinal research is required to examine how psychosocial factors influence the relationship between PTSS and PTG. 

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