Poster Presentation FCIC Survivorship Conference 2013

Resilience: What Influences Treatment Outcomes for Patients Treated with Early Stage Cancer? (#54)

Kelvin Leung 1 , David Goldstein 2 3 , Kate Webber 2 3 , Colin Chen 3 , Barbara Bennett 1 2
  1. University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. NSW Cancer Survivors Centre, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  3. Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Resilience is the subject of increasing research over the past decade due to its potential to impact on health outcomes. A diagnosis of cancer is often regarded as a potentially traumatic event with adverse consequences. Research frequently focuses on negative aspects of cancer diagnosis and treatment (e.g. mood disorder).  It has been suggested however, that a psycho-pathological approach discounts the human capacity for resilience [1]. Defining the concept of resilience is complex, with no current ‘gold standard’ for its measurement. This study explored the concept of ‘attributional style’ (the habitual way in which individuals explain their positive and negative life events) as a potential mediator for resilience in patients treated for cancer. Patients (n=40; 60% female; mean age 63.6 years) attending a metropolitan  medical oncology department for a follow-up visit, completed self-report questionnaires measuring attributional style (Attributional Style Questionnaire  - ASQGU); resilience (Brief Resilience Scale - BRS); fatigue, mood; functional health status and social support. Participants had completed treatment for breast, colon, or prostate cancer with curative intent, a mean of 28.2 months previously. Results demonstrated a modest correlation between attributional style and resilience rho=-.388, p<.005, with a more optimistic attributional style associated with higher resilience .  Trajectories of health outcomes - defined by fatigue and psychological distress caseness were assessed and used to categorise those individuals with a resilient versus non-resilient clinical outcome. No significant associations were observed between resilience and other self-reported variables. Though the small sample size limited conclusions that can be drawn from the study, it served as a pilot to provide support for the feasibility of conducting such investigations into the factors which may influence outcomes from a cancer diagnosis and treatment and be amenable to intervention. 

  1. Bonanno, G.A et al Annu. Rev. Clin. Psychol. 2011. 7:1.1–1.25