Distress mediates the relationship between cognitive appraisal of medical care and benefit finding/posttraumatic growth in long-term cancer survivors

Zhunzhun Liu, Daniela Doege, Melissa S.Y. Thong, Lena Koch-Gallenkamp, Heike Bertram, Andrea Eberle, Bernd Holleczek, Alice Nennecke, Annika Waldmann, Sylke Ruth Zeißig, Ron Pritzkuleit, Volker Arndt*

*Corresponding author for this work


Background: The objective of this study was to ascertain long-term cancer survivors' (LTCS') appraisal of medical care and how these perceptions may influence their health and well-being, including benefit finding (BF) and posttraumatic growth (PTG). Methods: In total, 6952 LTCS from a multiregional population-based study in Germany completed the Benefit Finding Scale, the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, the Questionnaire on Stress in Cancer, and self-designed questions on cognitive appraisal of medical care. The authors explored the mediating role of distress between medical care appraisal and BF and PTG and the possible moderation of time since diagnosis in this relationship. RESULTS: LTCS' medical care appraisals (“no unresolved/untreated symptoms,” “satisfaction with cancer care,” and “satisfaction with care for other diseases”) were positively associated with BF. PTG was positively associated with “no unresolved/untreated symptoms” and negatively associated with “satisfaction with care for other diseases.” Cancer distress partially mediated the associations between appraisals of medical care and BF, between “no unresolved/untreated symptoms” and PTG and between “satisfaction with care for other diseases” and PTG; whereas it totally mediated the association between “satisfaction with cancer care” and PTG. Time was a significant moderator in the model; the negative indirect effect of cognitive appraisal on BF and PTG through cancer distress weakened with longer time since diagnosis. Conclusions: Cancer survivors' medical care appraisal is associated with their perceptions of BF and PTG through distress. Therefore, distress screening could be part of the regular workup to identify distressed cancer survivors who are not satisfied with medical care; these survivors may benefit from interventions to reduce distress and increase BF and PTG.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number19
Pages (from-to)3680-3690
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Center for Population Medicine and Public Health (ZBV)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-02 Public Health, Health Services Research and Social Medicine


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