As researchers continue to investigate quality of life (QOL) in cancer survivors, various physical and psychological characteristics are found to be positively or negatively associated with specific cancer diagnoses. Shun and colleagues, all from the Department of Nursing at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, recently reported on the association between type D personality trait and QOL in colorectal (CRC) survivors.1 Type D personality is characterized by the traits of negative affectivity and social inhibition.1
The purpose of this cross-sectional, correlational study was to explore the associations and to further identify impacts of these traits after controlling for biophysical and psychological factors in 124 CRC survivors who had completed active treatment in Taiwan. Data were collected using a set of structured questionnaires to explore type D personality, biophysical and psychological factors, and QOL. The authors found that patients with type D personality experienced higher physical and psychological distress than those with non–type D personality. Social inhibition remained an important factor leading to impairment in the mental componentof QOL after controlling for other associated factors. Negative affectivity was associated with fatigue intensity and interference of fatigue with life activities.1
After data analysis, Shun and colleagues concluded that personality trait was found to be an important factor associated with QOL. The trait of social inhibition was a significant factor influencing mental aspects of QOL, whereas negative affectivity was associated with fatigue. Assessing patients’ personality, including negative affectivity and social inhibition, could help nurses to develop supportive groups or social networks for these patients and thereby improve QOL for cancer survivors.1
Survivorship concerns have become increasingly important. This study by Shun et al brings out some important points regarding the patient’s general approach to life, often defined by the individual personality type that may precede the cancer diagnoses. Some personality types can be altered by counseling; others seem to be part of the individual’s psychological makeup from childhood and change would be difficult, if not impossible. Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer may express negative thoughts and avoid social contact; however, this may be a temporary reaction to diagnosis and treatment and will resolve over time. Lingering or worsening negativity or social inhibition may indicate type D behavior. It’s important for oncology healthcare professionals to assess patients for personality type D traits. Some characteristics may be obvious; others, less so. If negative affect and/or social inhibition are suspected or appear to be worsening, referral to a psycho-oncologist may prompt intervention that will increase patient QOL throughout the survivor continuum.
Shun S-C,Hsiao F-H,Lai Y-H et al. Personality trait and quality of life in colorectal cancer survivors. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2011; 38:E221-E228. [Online Exclusive] doi:10.1188/11.ONF.E221-E228 Link to abstract http://ons.metapress.com/content/11874j30456u10l2/?p=8845998e38084aeca4daa25f9f6a088f&pi=3