Purpose: Women with breast cancer often experience distress. This cohort study investigated the prevalence of distress, predictors of distress, and changes in distress during surgical continuity of care for breast cancer (from diagnosis to commencement of adjuvant treatment). Methods: The participants were 1079 women with breast cancer who were recruited between April 2013 and May 2014 from 11 breast surgery departments in Denmark. Distress was evaluated using the Distress Thermometer (DT) and predictors of distress were assessed with a self-administered questionnaire at the time of diagnosis (T1), at discharge (T2), and by the start of adjuvant treatment or follow-up (T3). Repeated measures ANOVA, simple and multiple linear regression, and mixed effects regression models were used to identify predictors and estimate changes in distress. Results: At T1, 249 (24.3%) women reported no or minimal distress, 298 (29.1%) moderate distress, and 407 (39.8%) severe distress. The mean distress was 5.5 points on the DT, which decreased by 0.70 (95% confidence interval (CI) -0.80, -0.54) points from T1 to T3. Predictors of distress were time since diagnosis, age, prior or concurrent intake of antidepressants or sedative medicine, prior emotional status, children living at home, feelings regarding femininity and attractiveness, and hospital. Conclusions: More than two-thirds of women with breast cancer experienced moderate or severe distress. Mean distress decreased slightly during surgical continuity of care. However, for some women, distress remained unchanged or even worsened. These findings highlight the need to identify the individual women with distress and offer them adequate support and care.
- Breast cancer
- Distress thermometer