Thyroid Cancer Survivors with Negative Illness Perception Have Poor Health-related Quality of Life

A recent study assessed the correlation between illness perception and health-related quality of life among differentiated thyroid cancer survivors.

“Differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) reports a poorer health‐related quality of life (HRQoL) than a norm population. Patients’ illness perceptions are modifiable and known associates of HRQoL in other cancers. The aim was to examine the relationship between illness perceptions and HRQoL among DTC survivors,” the authors explained.

They obtained data on thyroid cancer survivors using the Netherlands Cancer Registry, which includes data on patients diagnosed between 1990 and 2008. Eligible survivors were asked to fill out a survey pertaining to illness perceptions (Brief‐Illness Perception Questionnaire; B‐IPQ) and HRQoL (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, Quality of Life Questionnaire‐Core 30; EORTC QLQ‐C30). The correlation between illness perceptions and HRQoL was analyzed using multiple regression analyses that controlled for sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.

Final analysis included 284 survivors (mean age at time of survey, 55.98 years; 23.6% were male). Survivors who strongly believed their illness affected their lives had poorer global QoL, physical, role, and social functioning, and more fatigue and pain. Survivors with a stronger belief that their illness could be managed by treatment had lower global HRQoL and physical functioning. Survivors who reported more symptoms related to their illness had poorer social functioning and more fatigue, insomnia and constipation, and also experienced a negative financial impact attributed to their illness. Survivors affected by their illness had poorer global QoL and social functioning.

The study was published in Head & Neck: Journal for The Sciences & Specialties of The Head and Neck.

“In detail, negative emotional and cognitive perceptions were associated with poorer global, emotional and social functioning, and more symptoms of fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, dyspnoea, insomnia, appetite loss, and constipation. Interestingly, disease understanding was not related to any of the HRQoL scales,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion. “This knowledge is therefore helpful in identifying DTC survivors at risk of experiencing a poor HRQoL, and given the modifiable nature of illness perceptions, it provides a possibility for improving them by means of psychological interventions.”