Predictors of post traumatic growth in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation survivors: a cross-sectional survey

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BMC Psychology


Aims: Given the increasing number of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantations (HSCT) performed world-wide, the increasing likelihood of survival following HSCT, and the profound physical, psychosocial, and emotional impact of HSCT on survivors, their carers and families, it is important to identify factors that may contribute to or support post-traumatic growth (PTG) after transplant. In this study, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of PTG in an Australian cohort of long-term allogeneic HSCT survivors and describe associations between PTG and relevant clinical, sociodemographic and psychological variables. Methods: This was a large, multi-centre, cross sectional survey of Australian HSCT-survivors inviting all those transplanted in New South Wales between 2000 and 2012. Respondents completed the PTG Inventory (PTGI), the Sydney Post-BMT Survey, FACT-BMT, DASS 21, The Chronic Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD) Activity Assessment–Patient Self-Report (Form B), the Lee Chronic GVHD Symptom Scale, and the Fear of Cancer Recurrence Scale. Data was analysed using independent t-tests, one-way analysis of variance, and pearson’s correlations, and hierarchical multiple regression adjusted for potential confounders and to ascertain independent associations of explanatory variables with PTG. Results: Of 441 respondents, 99% reported some level of PTG with 67% reporting moderate to high levels of PTG. Female gender, younger age, complementary therapy use, anxiety, psychological distress and psychosocial care, and higher quality of life were associated with higher levels of PTG. Importantly, we also found that PTG was not associated with either chronic GVHD or post-HSCT morbidity. Conclusions: In this study – the largest study of PTG in long-term allogeneic HSCT survivors - we found that growth appears ubiquitous, with 99% of survivors reporting some degree of PTG and 67% reporting moderate-high levels of PTG. Importantly, we found no association with GVHD or chronic physical post-HSCT morbidity, or adverse financial, occupational or sexual impacts. This suggests that it is the necessity for and experience of, HSCT itself that foments personal growth. Accordingly, healthcare professionals should be alert to the profound and wide-ranging impact of HSCT - and the degree to which survivor’s may experience PTG. Identifying interventions that may assist HSCT survivors cope and building their resilience is of utmost importance.

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