Psychosocial difficulties have been reported in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients, yet only few studies have assessed the impact of altered appearance following HNC treatment using theoretically selected measures of appearance-related distress. This study investigated appearance-related adjustment following HNC, and demographic and socio-cognitive predictors of adjustment. HNC patients (n = 49) completed baseline questionnaires and a nine-month postal follow-up (n = 20). Participants showed considerable variation in appearance-related adjustment, with females reporting higher levels of appearance-related distress (derriford appearance scale [DAS-24]) than females in the general population and male HNC survivors. Depression scores on the hospital anxiety and depression scale were higher than UK norms whilst anxiety was similar to UK norms. There were no significant differences between baseline and follow-up data. Fear of negative evaluation (a central feature of social anxiety) was a significant predictor of appearance-related adjustment at baseline, whilst dispositional optimism was a significant predictor of appearance-related adjustment at baseline and follow-up. Qualitative responses showed themes of appearance and disability, and coping strategies. Findings suggest that appearance-related adjustment post-HNC varies considerably and psychosocial services working with HNC patients should consider this broad pattern of response. Future research to examine the role of socio-cognitive predictors of appearance-related adjustment could progress development of effective psychological interventions.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Psychology, Health & Medicine|
|Early online date||11 Nov 2013|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
- psychosocial adjustment
- head and neck cancer