Context: Older adults with advanced cancer face uncertainty related to their disease and treatment. Objectives: To evaluate the associations of uncertainty with psychological health and quality of life (QoL) in older adults with advanced cancer. Methods: Secondary cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from a national clustered geriatric assessment trial. Patients 70 years and older with advanced cancer considering a new line of chemotherapy were recruited. We measured uncertainty using the modified nine-item Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale. Dependent variables included anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7), depression (Generalized Depression Scale-15), distress (distress thermometer), QoL (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy—General), and emotional well-being (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy—General subscale). We used multivariate linear regression analyses to evaluate the association of uncertainty with each dependent variable. We conducted a partial least squares analysis with a variable importance in projection (VIP) plot to assess the contribution of individual variables to the model. Variables with a VIP <0.8 were considered less influential. Results: We included 527 patients (median age 76 years; range 70–96). In multivariate analyses, higher levels of uncertainty were significantly associated with greater anxiety (β = 0.11; SE = 0.04), depression (β = 0.09; SE = 0.02), distress (β = 0.12; SE = 0.02), as well as lower QoL (β = −1.08; SE = 0.11) and emotional well-being (β = −0.29; SE = 0.03); the effect sizes were considered small. Uncertainty items related to disease and treatment were most strongly associated with psychological health and QoL scores (all VIP >0.8). Conclusion: Uncertainty among older patients with advanced cancer is associated with worse psychological health and QoL. Tailored uncertainty management strategies are warranted.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
- older adults
- psychological health
- quality of life