Perceived familial risk of cancer: Health concerns and psychosocial adjustment

Marlene Hanson Frost, Catherine Walsh Vockley, Vera J. Suman, Mark H. Greene, Katherine Zahasky, Lynn Hartmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study explored the psychosocial morbidity and health concerns accompanying individuals’ perceived increased risk of cancer. Lazarus and Folkman’s concept of stress and coping guided the study. In a Familial Cancer Program, 78 patients were divided into two groups: 39 with and 39 without a cancer diagnosis. Questionnaires completed in the clinic before a risk evaluation included Spielberger’s Trait Anxiety Scale, the Medical Outcome Study Questionnaire, the Bipolar Profile of Mood States (POMS-BI), and an investigator-designed open-ended questions reviewed by a panel of experts. Data analyses using descriptive statistics and Wilcoxon rank sum tests revealed differences between qualitative and quantitative interpretations of risk: Patients’ perception of a high lifetime risk ranged from 16% to 88%. A favorable median global mood score was found on the POMS-BI, whereas a distress-specific question revealed an increased level of stress caused by the person’s cancer risk. Trait anxiety correlated significantly with most health and psychosocial variables (r = Q. 22 to.67). Few differences between the two groups were found regarding health concerns and psychosocial variables. Patients identified emotional and family concerns and their uncertain situation most often as being difficult in dealing with their risk, and they identified information, support, and screening most often as being helpful. The findings provide guidance for addressing psychosocial morbidity in members of cancer-prone families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-82
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Psychosocial Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 21 2000


  • Cancer risk
  • Familial cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Perceived familial risk of cancer: Health concerns and psychosocial adjustment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this