Adapting to Cancer with Body, Mind, and Heart: Psychological, Psychophysiological Assessment and Management in Sample of Ovarian Cancer Survivors
Objective: Ovarian cancer survivors often develop severe psychological disorders and impairments in social, familial, and sexual functioning. They experience a withdrawal from intimate relationship, fear and body shame, and a condition of unrelenting distress. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a physiological parameter that, when reduced, is index of higher distress. The quantitative observational study aimed at understanding the relationship between psychological adjustment, distress, and quality of life.
Methods: 44 women, consecutively recruited at the Oncological service of the Gynecological Dept., filled questionnaires investigating social support, body image, coping strategies and quality of life and recorded short-term HRV.
Results: significant correlations appeared between: quality of life functioning scales and body image, perceived social support and coping strategies; perceived support from the significant other and HRV (r=339 p <05), role functioning and HRV (r=479 p<001). Simple regressions on HRV showed the effect of the significant other’s support (F=4.27 p<05) and of role functioning (F=9.810 p<001), while body image showed its effect on quality of life (F=4.18 p<05). Multiple regression on HRV showed the effect of body image (β=453), support from friends (β=-435) and avoidance (β=-391) while fatalism showed an effect on quality of life (β=364, p<05).
Conclusion: Higher concerns on body image seem linked to a worsened day-to-day life. Reporting these concerns contributes to raise HRV, while better emotive disclosure reduces emotional distress. Social support positively influences quality of life and HRV. Fatalism facilitates cancer acceptance process. Proper emotive disclosure may have a positive impact on life quality.