Psychosocial distress is dynamic across the spectrum of cancer care and requires longitudinal screening for patient-centered care

Thomas L. Sutton, Marina Affi Koprowski, Alison Grossblatt-Wait, Samantha Brown, Grace McCarthy, Benjamin Liu, Anne Gross, Caroline Macuiba, Susan Hedlund, Jonathan R. Brody, Brett C. Sheppard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Screening for cancer-related psychosocial distress is recommended for patients with cancer; however, data on the long-term prevalence of distress and its natural history in survivors are scarce, preventing recommendations for screening frequency and duration. We sought to evaluate longitudinal distress in cancer patients. Methods: We evaluated longitudinal distress screening data for patients with cancer treated or surveilled at our institution from 2010 to 2018. Anxiety, depression, insurance/financial, family, memory, and strength-related distress were separately assessed and analyzed. Multivariable logistic regression was utilized to evaluate factors associated with distress subtypes. Results: In 5660 patients, distress was the highest at diagnosis for anxiety, depression, financial, and overall distress. On multivariable analysis, factors independently associated with distress at diagnosis included younger age, female gender, disease site/stage, payor, and income, varying by subtype-specific analyses. Severe distress in at least one subtype persisted in over 30% of survivors surveyed through 10 years after diagnosis. Over half of patients with initially severe distress at diagnosis improved within 12 months; however, distress worsened in 20–30% of patients with moderate, low, and no initial distress, regardless of the distress subtype. Conclusion: Psychosocial distress in cancer survivors is a long-lasting burden with implications for quality of life and oncologic outcomes. Severe distress remains prevalent through 10 years after diagnosis in survivors receiving continued care at cancer centers and results from both persistent and new sources of distress in a variety of psychosocial domains. Longitudinal distress screening is an invaluable tool for providing comprehensive patient-centered cancer care and is recommended to detect new or recurrent distress in cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4255-4264
Number of pages10
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Cancer survivorship
  • Distress screening
  • Longitudinal distress
  • Psycho-oncology
  • Psychosocial distress
  • Supportive care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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