Why Do Adult Patients With Cancer Not Seek Help for Their Depressive Symptoms? The Role of Illness Perceptions, Coping, and Social Support

Esmée A. Bickel*, Joke Fleer, Adelita V. Ranchor, Maya J. Schroevers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

52 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background:
Up to 75% of cancer patients with depressive symptoms do not make use of psychological care.

Objective:
To examine how perceptions of and coping with depressive symptoms and perceived social support in adults with cancer are associated with their need for psychological care, concurrently and over time.

Methods:
In this longitudinal study, 127 participants who received a cancer diagnosis in the past 5 years, experienced at least moderate depressive symptoms, and were not receiving psychological help, completed 2 self-report questionnaires (3 months apart) including the brief Illness Perception Questionnaire and brief Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced Inventory and Social Support List.

Results:
Participants with stronger belief in the efficacy of psychological care and more likely to use avoidant coping reported a greater need for psychological care at both data points. Social support was not significantly associated with perceived need for psychological care.

Conclusions:
Stronger perceived treatment control and greater use of avoidant coping were significantly associated with a greater perceived need for psychological care.

Implications for practice:
People with cancer may benefit from being informed about the efficacy of depression treatment. Furthermore, health care professionals should be aware that avoidant coping may complicate psychological care seeking for a group of adults with cancer experiencing depressive symptoms and having a need for psychological care.

Foundational:
Illness perceptions and coping mechanisms can predict cancer patients’ need for psychological care. Providing information about treatment options and its efficacy, together with targeting avoidant coping may increase adequate decision-making and possibly the uptake of psychological care.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Care Research Online
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19-Oct-2022

Cite this