Paper in Psycho-Oncology
  • Butow, P., Kelly, S. Thewes, B., Hruby, G., Sharpe, L., Beith,J. Attentional bias and metacognitions in cancer survivors with high fear of cancer recurrence. Psycho-Oncology, 24 (4) p. 496.

    Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is a common and severe problem amongst cancer survivors, but mechanisms to explain its development and maintenance are still lacking. The self-regulatory executive function (S-REF) model suggests that metacognitions and attentional bias to cancer-related words may explain high FCR. Thus, this study aimed to explore relationships between FCR, metacognitions and attentional bias in a mixed group of cancer survivors.

    Sixty-three early-stage breast or prostate cancer survivors, diagnosed within 6 months to 5 years prior to participation and who had completed all hospital-based treatment with no evidence of cancer recurrence were recruited through two metropolitan oncology clinics. Participants completed a questionnaire battery and the dot-probe task.

    Survivors with clinical FCR had significantly greater positive beliefs about worry (10.1 vs 7.4, p = 0.002) and beliefs about the uncontrollability and danger of worry (12.0 vs 7.7, p = 0.000) than those with non-clinical FCR, whereas the total metacognition score significantly predicted FCR in multiple regression analysis (β = 0.371, p = 0.001). No significant differences were detected between participants scoring above and below clinical FCR levels in attention bias indices.

    This study found partial support for the S-REF model of FCR, with metacognitions but not attentional bias found to be related to FCR. Further research is needed to explore attentional biases in more detail.