Profiles of Emotional Distress and Growth Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Cancer: A Longitudinal Study

Jieling Chen, Bradley Zebrack, Leanne Embry, David R. Freyer, Christine Aguilar, Steve Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: This study investigated profiles of emotional distress and growth in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer. Clinical, demographic, and psychosocial factors were examined for their potential to distinguish these profiles and predict health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of AYAs with cancer. Method: This was a multicenter, longitudinal study of AYAs diagnosed with cancer at 14-39 years of age. Participants were assessed 3 times over 24 months following a baseline survey administered at diagnosis. Four profiles (resilient, resilient growth, distressed, distressed growth) were derived using published cutoff points on standardized measures of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and posttraumatic growth. Mixed-effects models were used to examine profile correlates and the extent to which profiles were associated with HRQoL. Results: Among 179 participants at Time 1, the proportion of profiles ranged from 18.8% for the resilient profile to 30.4% for the distressed-growth profile. These proportions remained consistent over time. Factors that appeared to distinguish these profiles included work or school status, sex, race, age at diagnosis, treatment status, prognosis, and personality characteristics. When compared to AYAs with resilient-growth profiles, HRQoL was significantly worse for AYAs reporting distressed and distressed-growth profiles, controlling for demographic, clinical, and social characteristics. Conclusion: The current study found 4 patterns of psychological adjustment in AYAs with cancer. The resilient-growth profile was associated with better HRQoL, whereas distressed and distressed-growth profiles were associated with worse HRQoL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Adolescents and young adults
  • Emotional distress
  • Posttraumatic growth
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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