Post-treatment psychological distress among colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors is common, but changes over time. However, data on the effects of emotional factors on changes in psychological distress over time remain limited. The study sought to describe the patterns of change in psychological distress among CRC survivors in the short-term after treatment completion and to identify predictors of the change in psychological distress experienced by CRC survivors.
A total of 153 CRC survivors, stages II–III at diagnosis, who were 4–24 months post-diagnosis (participation rate 89.5%) completed the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire, Acceptance and Action Questionnaire, Resilience Scale-14, Self-Compassion Scale–Short Form, and Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (psychological distress scale) at Time 1 (T1). Psychological distress was assessed again at Time 2 (T2), 6 months later.
Two patterns of change in post-treatment psychological distress among CRC survivors were identified: One group of patients experienced higher psychological distress at T1, which decreased at T2. A second group experienced lower psychological distress at T1, which increased at T2. Self-compassion and personal resilience predicted higher psychological distress at T2. Lower suppression and self-compassion and higher personal resilience increased the likelihood of being in the increased psychological distress group.
Psychological distress evaluation of CRC survivors at different time-points post-treatment is warranted. In addition, awareness is needed that self-compassion may be individually related to psychological distress among participants.