Objectives: The diagnosis and treatment of cancer is commonly viewed as a potentially traumatic event. This is supported by evidence showing that some individuals experience cancer-related PTSD, while others experience positive changes such as PTG. Although studies have suggested various correlates of PTSD and PTG, these typically rely on small samples and produce findings that are widely variable. This paper will present the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining associations between such variables and symptoms of PTSD and PTG, respectively, in cancer patients.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted to identify eligible studies that used cross-sectional designs with samples of adult cancer patients, and reported associations between proposed correlates and symptoms of PTSD and PTG. Random effects meta-analyses were used to synthesise results.
Results: The systematic review identified k = 62 studies that considered a range of correlates including age, gender, stage of disease, distress, perceived life threat, prior exposure to trauma, social support, optimism and physical quality of life. The current paper will present the best available estimate of association between each risk factor and PTSD and PTG, based on all studies. The degree of variability across studies will be examined, as will the clinical characteristics of studies that may explain any variation.
Conclusions: This review is the first to systematically examine the correlates of PTSD symptoms and PTG in oncology populations, and provide the best available estimate of these associations based on all available data.