Psychometric Properties of a Single-Item Measure of Fear of Cancer Recurrence (FCR)

Awardee: Lauren Rudy

Graduate Program: MSc

Institution: McGill University

Supervisor(s): Annett Körner and Christine Maheu

ARCC Program Area(s): Survivorship

Competition: 2018

Project Summary:

Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR), defined as “the fear or worry that the cancer will return or progress in the same organ or in another part of the body”, affects many people who survive cancer. In clinical care, FCR has been identified by cancer survivors as one of their most significant unmet needs. Although fear and distress are normal responses to traumatic health issues, some individuals with FCR go on to experience moderate-to-high clinical levels, which can impair everyday functioning. Clinical FCR is associated with increased rates of anxiety and depression, lower quality of life, greater uncertainty about the future, increased healthcare costs, and more frequent visits to the emergency room. Women are more likely to experience FCR than men, and socially isolated women, young women, and uneducated women are the most at-risk. Due to its far-reaching consequences, it is important to adequately screen for FCR in survivors. Although many FCR scales are available, most of these tools are long and burdensome to complete, and they have the potential to disrupt the flow of clinical care. Alternatively, single-item measures can be completed by survivors in a matter of minutes.

Due to their brevity and ease of administration, single-item measures place less of a burden on respondents and are therefore more likely to be completed than longer measures, a phenomenon referred to as “response burden”. They are also more cost-effective, time-efficient and lend themselves to greater ease of interpretation. In clinical or hospital settings, the care needs of highly-distressed patients can be met more quickly when single-item measures are employed. In therapeutic interventions where FCR is measured on an ongoing, session-by-session basis, a succinct scale would be more suitable than a multi-item measure. Despite their advantages, one-item measures of FCR are under-utilized and their effectiveness has not yet been studied in depth. As such, no “gold-standard” one-item measure exists. The aim of this study is to explore the psychometric properties of a novel single-item FCR measure with the intention of establishing a strong clinical tool that can be used in a variety of healthcare settings.

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