Correlates of post-traumatic stress symptoms and growth in cancer patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Lyndel Shand, Sean Cowlishaw, Joanne Booker, Sue Burney, Lina Ricciardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study is to examine the relationships among demographic, medical, and psychosocial factors and post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and post-traumatic growth (PTG) in oncology populations.

A systematic search identified k = 116 relevant studies published between 1990 and 2012. Meta-analyses synthesized results from studies that reported data on correlates of PTSS (k = 26) or PTG (k = 48). A meta-analysis was performed for k = 5 studies reporting the correlation between PTSS and PTG.

Post-traumatic stress symptoms were associated with depression (r = 0.56), anxiety (r = 0.65), distress (r = 0.62), social support (r = −0.33), and physical quality of life (r = −0.44). PTG was associated with age (r = −0.08), gender (r = −0.15), distress (r = −0.16), depression (r = −0.06), social support (r = 0.30), optimism (r = 0.27), positive reappraisal (r = 0.46), spirituality (r = 0.33), and religious coping (r = 0.36). There was a small positive relationship between PTSS and PTG (r = 0.13).

Post-traumatic stress symptoms and PTG appear to be independent constructs, rather than opposite ends of a single dimension. This is reflected in a small relationship between these variables and different psychosocial correlates. PTSS were strongly associated with variables reflecting a general state of negative affect. Optimism, spirituality, and positive coping styles were associated with PTG. It remains unclear how they are associated with PTSS, given the lack of relevant studies. Longitudinal research is required to examine how psychosocial factors influence the relationship between PTSS and PTG.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)624-634
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Early online date12 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • post-traumatic growth; post-traumatic stress disorder; systematic review; meta-analysis; oncology; cancer


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