Background Head and neck cancer is a life-threatening illness requiring aversive treatments. Despite clear potential for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in both patients and their partners, research is scant. Methods Newly diagnosed patients and partners (number of dyads = 42) completed questionnaires to assess symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression, as well as demographic, medical, and attitudinal variables. Results Partners had higher average levels of PTSD symptoms than patients (p = .023). More partners (28.6%) met criteria for estimated PTSD caseness than did patients (11.9%). There were no significant differences in levels of other anxiety or depression symptoms. Perceived threat of disease appeared to be a stronger correlate of PTSD symptom levels than medical variables in patients and partners. Conclusion A diagnosis of head and neck cancer elicits significant levels of PTSD symptoms in patients, and even higher levels among partners. Identified correlates of distress, including perceived threat of disease, are potential intervention targets.
- head and neck cancer
- posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
ASJC Scopus subject areas