Demoralization can cause impairments across all life aspects of cancer patients. Cancer patients are also vulnerable during their survivorship. The purpose of this review is to examine the risk of demoralization and associated risk factors among cancer survivors who have completed their primary anti-cancer treatment or time since diagnosis ≥5 years without recurrence.
We searched databases of PubMed, Cochrane, Embase, PsycINFO and ClinicalTrial.gov to identify eligible studies which reported the demoralization level among cancer survivors. A random-effect meta-analysis model was used for calculating mean demoralization level. Heterogeneity was evaluated by I
2 statistics. Funnel plots and Egger’s regression tests were performed for checking publication bias. We used one-study-removed method for sensitivity analysis. Subgroup analysis was also done to examine the difference of demoralization level between cancer types. Meta-regression was performed to reveal risk factors of demoralization.
A meta-analysis of 12 articles involving 2902 cancer survivors was conducted. The mean demoralization score among cancer survivors was 25.98 (95% CI: 23.53–28.43). Higher demoralization level was seen in participants with older age, higher female ratio, higher married/living together status ratio and higher patient health questionnaire-9 score. The literature review revealed correlations between demoralization and suicide risk, anxiety and quality of life. No consistent correlation between demoralization and post-traumatic stress symptoms could be seen.
High demoralization level is noticed among cancer survivors. Risks for females, elder patients or breast cancer survivors are identified. More longitudinal or interventional studies for cancer survivors’ demoralization are expected in the future.