Distinct Stress Profiles Among Oncology Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy

Dale J. Langford, Bruce Cooper, Steven Paul, Janice Humphreys, Marilyn J. Hammer, Jon Levine, Yvette P. Conley, Fay Wright, Laura B. Dunn, Christine Miaskowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Cancer and its treatment are inherently stressful and stress impacts important patient outcomes. Patients vary considerably in their response to stress. Understanding this variability requires a patient-centered multidimensional approach. Objectives: The objectives of this study were to identify and characterize patient subgroups with distinct multidimensional stress profiles (stress appraisal, exposure, and adaptation) during cancer treatment. Methods: Among 957 patients undergoing chemotherapy for breast, gastrointestinal, gynecological, or lung cancer, latent profile analysis was performed to identify patient subgroups using concurrent evaluations of global (Perceived Stress Scale) and cancer-specific (Impact of Events Scale–Revised) stress, lifetime stress exposure (Life Stressor Checklist–Revised), and resilience (Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale-10). Results: Three latent classes were identified: “Normative” (54.3%; intermediate global stress and resilience, lower cancer-related stress, lowest life stress); “Stressed” (39.9%; highest global and cancer-specific stress scores, lowest resilience, most life stress); and “Resilient” (5.7%; lowest global stress, cancer-specific stress comparable to Normative class, highest resilience, intermediate life stress). Characteristics that distinguished the Stressed from the Normative class included the following: younger age, female gender, lower socioeconomic status, unmarried/partnered, living alone, poorer functional status, and higher comorbidity burden. Compared to Stressed patients, Resilient patients were more likely to be partnered, to not live alone, and had a higher functional status. No demographic or clinical characteristics differentiated Normative from Resilient patients. Exposure to specific life stressors differed significantly among the classes. Conclusion: A subset of patients warrants intensive psychosocial intervention to reduce stress and improve adaptation to cancer. Intervention efforts may be informed by further study of Resilient patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)646-657
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Cancer
  • chemotherapy
  • latent profile analysis
  • resilience
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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