It is important to identify predictors of psychological health among breast cancer patients that can be relatively easily identified by medical care providers. This article investigates the role of one class of such potential predictors: easily identified demographics that have potential social and/or practical implications. Specifically, we examined whether income, marital status, presence of children in the home, education, travel distance, age and rurality interact with time to predict psychological health over the first year post diagnosis. Two hundred and twenty five breast cancer patients receiving radiation treatment completed four surveys over the course of 13 months that included measures of both their physical health and depressive symptoms. The results revealed that women who were not married had children living in the home or had to travel long distances to receive radiation treatment reported higher levels of depressive symptoms across the entire study. Women with lower incomes reported increased depressive symptoms, but only after the completion of treatment. Younger women reported elevated depressive symptoms during initial treatment, but this effect dissipated after the completion of treatment. The current results suggest that demographic patient characteristics may indeed be useful in identifying both when and for whom depressive symptoms are particularly likely to be problematic.
- breast cancer
- marital status