Beyond the fear that lingers: The interaction between fear of cancer recurrence and rumination in relation to depression and anxiety symptoms

Publication date: August 2018
Source:Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 111
Author(s): Jianlin Liu, Chao-Xu Peh, Sébastien Simard, Konstadina Griva, Rathi Mahendran
ObjectiveThe Fear of Cancer Recurrence (FCR) is reported to be a normal response to cancer, but little is known about the interaction between FCR and maladaptive cognitive processes, which may increase the risk for depression and anxiety disorders among cancer survivors. Previous studies have shown the influence of rumination on depression and anxiety in other populations. Thus, the present study aimed to examine how FCR and rumination may relate to depression and anxiety symptoms among cancer survivors.MethodsThe present study included cancer survivors (N = 388) who had completed their active treatment at the National University Cancer Institute Singapore, and achieved complete remission from cancer. All participants completed self-report measures of FCR (Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory), rumination (Rumination Response Scale), depression, and anxiety symptoms (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale).ResultsThe present study observed that (1) FCR and rumination were associated with more severe depression and anxiety symptoms, and (2) the interaction between FCR and rumination was associated with more severe depressive symptoms (p = .01). Specifically, rumination was significantly associated with higher depressive symptoms in individuals with high FCR (p < .001), while rumination was not associated with depressive symptoms in individuals with low FCR (p > .05).ConclusionHabitual rumination may be a maladaptive cognitive style to cope with high FCR. Therefore, the present study’s findings elucidate the moderating effect of rumination on FCR, and such findings may better inform psychological interventions to reduce the risk of depression and anxiety among cancer survivors who experience high FCR.