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Attentional bias and metacognitions in cancer survivors with high fear of cancer recurrence

Butow, P., Kelly, S., Thewes, Belinda, Hruby, George, Sharpe, L. and Beith, Jane (2015). Attentional bias and metacognitions in cancer survivors with high fear of cancer recurrence. Psycho-Oncology,24(4):416-423.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 83393865xPUB216
Title Attentional bias and metacognitions in cancer survivors with high fear of cancer recurrence
Author Butow, P.
Kelly, S.
Thewes, Belinda
Hruby, George
Sharpe, L.
Beith, Jane
Journal Name Psycho-Oncology
Publication Date 2015
Volume Number 24
Issue Number 4
ISSN 1099-1611   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84926644375
Start Page 416
End Page 423
Total Pages 8
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Background
Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is a common and severe problem amongst cancer survivors, but mechanisms to explain its development and maintenance are still lacking. The self-regulatory executive function (S-REF) model suggests that metacognitions and attentional bias to cancer-related words may explain high FCR. Thus, this study aimed to explore relationships between FCR, metacognitions and attentional bias in a mixed group of cancer survivors.


Sixty-three early-stage breast or prostate cancer survivors, diagnosed within 6 months to 5 years prior to participation and who had completed all hospital-based treatment with no evidence of cancer recurrence were recruited through two metropolitan oncology clinics. Participants completed a questionnaire battery and the dot-probe task.


Survivors with clinical FCR had significantly greater positive beliefs about worry (10.1 vs 7.4, p = 0.002) and beliefs about the uncontrollability and danger of worry (12.0 vs 7.7, p = 0.000) than those with non-clinical FCR, whereas the total metacognition score significantly predicted FCR in multiple regression analysis (β = 0.371, p = 0.001). No significant differences were detected between participants scoring above and below clinical FCR levels in attention bias indices.


This study found partial support for the S-REF model of FCR, with metacognitions but not attentional bias found to be related to FCR. Further research is needed to explore attentional biases in more detail.
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Created: Tue, 26 Jul 2016, 12:40:14 CST