An investigation of personality factors and beliefs about illness that may influence the time taken to seek help for cancer symptoms.
D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Background: Reducing the time taken to seek help for symptoms is important in improving prognosis for cancer patients. Delay in help-seeking refers to the period between first noticing symptoms and initial medical consultation. The aim of this study was to investigate if psychological factors were associated with the time taken to seek help for individuals with colorectal or breast cancer.
Method: Participants with colorectal (47) and breast cancer (24) recalled the length of time from first recognising symptoms until seeking medical help. This was calculated in days for two sequential time periods: symptom appraisal (from recognising symptoms until appraising they may be serious) and action appraisal (from recognition of symptoms as serious until organising a medical consultation). Six measures assessing dispositional traits, illness beliefs and current symptomatology were completed, and relevant demographic information recorded.
Result: Symptom appraisal accounted for the largest proportion of time in seeking help for both groups. Initial correlational analysis followed by further Cox regression analysis indicated that age was significantly associated with action appraisal time for the breast cancer group. There were no significant associations between predictor variables and symptom appraisal time for this group. Time-to-event analysis could not be completed for participants with colorectal cancer.
Conclusion: Results are discussed in light of previous research findings and the limitations of the present study.
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