Presentation Title

Cancer Patients' Perceptions Of Their Cognitive Functioning After Treatment Are Impacted By Comments From Others

Authors' Names

Brook Clark

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

Objective: Cancer patients often cite negative cognitive symptoms during and after receiving chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer. This study examined the influence of negative expectations on self-reports of cognitive functioning in patients who had completed chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Understanding the multifaceted etiology of chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) is critical in order to facilitate the highest levels of patient quality of life.

Methods: Adult participants (n = 56) who had completed chemotherapy treatment were recruited from an outpatient cancer center in the Northwest. Participants in the experimental group read a prompt stating that many cancer patients report difficulties with thinking during and after chemotherapy. Participants in the control group received a neutral prompt. Both groups completed a self-report measure of cognitive functioning (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy- Cognitive Function-Version 3).

Results: While a t-test revealed that the two groups did not differ significantly in the extent to which they reported cognitive symptoms, a significant correlation of
r = .56 (p < 0.01) was found between the ‘Perceived Cognitive Impairments’ and ‘Comments from Others’ subscales for both groups. Both subscales are scored such that higher scores represent better functioning or higher quality of life.

Conclusions: This finding indicates a moderate relationship between the content of what others say to cancer patients about their cognitive functioning and how cancer patients perceive their own cognitive functioning. Cancer patients likely benefit from comments they interpret as “positive” regarding their cognitive functioning during recovery. Although this appears to be a straightforward conclusion, it is important to note that very well-intended remarks from others that liken normal forgetting to ‘chemo-brain’ (a term with negative emotional valence) may, in fact, be interpreted by cancer survivors as “negative”. Thus, well-intended remarks could contribute to patients’ negative beliefs about their cognitive functioning. Negative self-perceptions may adversely affect important aspects of cancer recovery. Understanding the mechanisms of CRCI may help health care professionals and close others interact with cancer patients in ways that support the best recovery possible.

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Apr 27th, 11:00 AM Apr 27th, 12:00 PM

Cancer Patients' Perceptions Of Their Cognitive Functioning After Treatment Are Impacted By Comments From Others

UC Ballroom (Center)

Objective: Cancer patients often cite negative cognitive symptoms during and after receiving chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer. This study examined the influence of negative expectations on self-reports of cognitive functioning in patients who had completed chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Understanding the multifaceted etiology of chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI) is critical in order to facilitate the highest levels of patient quality of life.

Methods: Adult participants (n = 56) who had completed chemotherapy treatment were recruited from an outpatient cancer center in the Northwest. Participants in the experimental group read a prompt stating that many cancer patients report difficulties with thinking during and after chemotherapy. Participants in the control group received a neutral prompt. Both groups completed a self-report measure of cognitive functioning (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy- Cognitive Function-Version 3).

Results: While a t-test revealed that the two groups did not differ significantly in the extent to which they reported cognitive symptoms, a significant correlation of
r = .56 (p < 0.01) was found between the ‘Perceived Cognitive Impairments’ and ‘Comments from Others’ subscales for both groups. Both subscales are scored such that higher scores represent better functioning or higher quality of life.

Conclusions: This finding indicates a moderate relationship between the content of what others say to cancer patients about their cognitive functioning and how cancer patients perceive their own cognitive functioning. Cancer patients likely benefit from comments they interpret as “positive” regarding their cognitive functioning during recovery. Although this appears to be a straightforward conclusion, it is important to note that very well-intended remarks from others that liken normal forgetting to ‘chemo-brain’ (a term with negative emotional valence) may, in fact, be interpreted by cancer survivors as “negative”. Thus, well-intended remarks could contribute to patients’ negative beliefs about their cognitive functioning. Negative self-perceptions may adversely affect important aspects of cancer recovery. Understanding the mechanisms of CRCI may help health care professionals and close others interact with cancer patients in ways that support the best recovery possible.