Objective: This study aimed to describe distinct trajectories of anxiety/depression symptoms and overall health status/quality of life over a period of 18 months following a breast cancer diagnosis, and identify the medical, socio-demographic, lifestyle, and psychological factors that predict these trajectories. Methods: 474 females (mean age = 55.79 years) were enrolled in the first weeks after surgery or biopsy. Data from seven assessment points over 18 months, at 3-month intervals, were used. The two outcomes were assessed at all points. Potential predictors were assessed at baseline and the first follow-up. Machine-Learning techniques were used to detect latent patterns of change and identify the most important predictors. Results: Five trajectories were identified for each outcome: stably high, high with fluctuations, recovery, deteriorating/delayed response, and stably poor well-being (chronic distress). Psychological factors (i.e., negative affect, coping, sense of control, social support), age, and a few medical variables (e.g., symptoms, immune-related inflammation) predicted patients' participation in the delayed response and the chronic distress trajectories versus all other trajectories. Conclusions: There is a strong possibility that resilience does not always reflect a stable response pattern, as there might be some interim fluctuations. The use of machine-learning techniques provides a unique opportunity for the identification of illness trajectories and a shortlist of major bio/behavioral predictors. This will facilitate the development of early interventions to prevent a significant deterioration in patient well-being.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 777167.
© 2023 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- breast cancer
- trajectory predictors