CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Posttraumatic Growth and PTSD Symptomatology Among Colorectal Cancer Survivors: A 3-Month Longitudinal Examination of Cognitive Processing


Introduction: The experience of cancer can be understood as a psychosocial transition, producing both positive and negative outcomes. Cognitive processing may facilitate psychological adjustment.

Methods: Fifty-five post-treatment, colorectal cancer survivors (M=65.9 years old; SD=12.7), an average of 13 months post-diagnosis, were recruited from a state cancer registry and completed baseline and 3-month questionnaires assessing dispositional (social desirability), cognitive processing (cognitive intrusions, cognitive rehearsal), and psychological adjustment variables (posttraumatic growth (PTG), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology, depression, anxiety, positive affectivity).

Results: PTSD symptomatology was positively associated with depression, anxiety, and negatively associated with positive affectivity. In contrast, PTG scores were unrelated to PTSD symptomatology, depression, anxiety, and positive affectivity. In addition, PTG was independent of social desirability. Notably, after controlling for age at diagnosis and education, multiple regression analyses indicated that cognitive processing (intrusions, rehearsal) was differentially predictive of psychological adjustment. Baseline cognitive intrusions predicted 3-month PTSD symptomatology and there was a trend for baseline cognitive rehearsal predicting 3-month PTG.

Conclusions: Additional research is needed to clarify the association between PTG and other indices of psychological adjustment, further delineate the nature of cognitive processing, and understand the trajectory of PTG over time for survivors with colorectal cancer.

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