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Jennifer R. Brown, MD, PhD


Perceptions of Illness and Psychological Outcomes in Patients With CLL

By: Amy MacDonald, M.S.
Posted: Friday, July 15, 2022

Senior author Barbara L. Andersen, PhD, of The Ohio State University Department of Psychology, Columbus, and colleagues evaluated the relationship between illness perceptions and psychological outcomes in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, the results showed a predictive effect of disease perception on emotional outcomes during treatment for this chronic hematologic malignancy.

Initial author Nicole A. Arrato, MA, and co-investigators categorized patients’ illness perceptions pretreatment and then assessed emotional outcomes at 12 months while CLL treatment continued. A total of 259 patients with CLL enrolled in one of four different CLL clinical trials in which the tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib was tested alone or in combination with other treatments. Enrolled patients were evaluated using the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (BIPQ), an assessment that examines six cognitive perceptions: consequences, timeline, personal control, treatment control, identity, and comprehension.

Latent profile analysis of the data revealed three distinct patient profile representations of illness: low, moderate, and high impact. Patient profiles differed most in patients’ perceptions of identity and CLL disease consequences. Profile membership predicted all psychological outcomes (P < .038), with patients identifying as high impact reporting the highest stress as treatment continued. These profiles successfully predicted patients’ depressive symptoms, negative mood, and cancer-related stress at 12 months.

The study authors believe these data provide direction for future clinical efforts. By evaluating patients’ perceptions of illness consequences at the beginning of CLL treatment, an opportunity is created for intervention to help patients at highest risk of negative emotional outcomes. Such psychological interventions could improve these patients’ long-term cancer experience and overall quality of life.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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