Posttraumatic growth and cancer: a study 5 years after treatment end

Claudia Cormio, Barbara Muzzatti, Francesca Romito, Vittorio Mattioli, Maria Antonietta Annunziata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Cancer survivors often report posttraumatic growth (PTG). The aims of this study were to assess the presence of PTG in Italian long-term disease-free cancer survivors (LCS) and to explore the association between the dimensions of PTG and clinical, demographic variables, various agents of perceived social support and psychological distress. Methods: Five hundred forty LCS were assessed with Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale, and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Y (STAI-Y). Results: Mean age was 57.08 years, mean survival was 11.04 years (range 5–32), and the most common cancer diagnosis was breast cancer (56.9%). The PTGI average total score was higher in more educated LCS, in those employed, in LCS with longer time from diagnosis, and in those with no comorbidities. In this study, PTG was not found correlated with distress, but it correlated with perceived social support, age, education, and employment. Conclusions: The absence of a correlation between PTG and psychological distress and the low levels of PTG found let us question the importance of talking about PTG when working as psychotherapists with LCS. It may be suggested that the need of finding benefit and PTG in LCS has been overcome by other experiences or worries happened after the cancer, and LCS may not focus anymore on positive changes occurred. The relevance of work and of perceived social support as linked to PTG stresses the need to protect the LCS’s relationship with work and to promote and sustain their social network, and this can help them to experience sharing and closeness to others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Dec 24 2016


  • Cancer survivors
  • Posttraumatic growth
  • Posttraumatic growth dimensions
  • Psychological distress
  • Social support
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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