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01.12.2019 | Study protocol | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2019

Trauma- and stressor-related disorders among hematological cancer patients with and without stem cell transplantation: protocol of an interview-based study according to updated diagnostic criteria

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2019
Peter Esser, Katharina Kuba, Jochen Ernst, Anja Mehnert-Theuerkauf
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12885-019-6047-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Trauma- and stressor-related disorders pose an important threat for patients with medical conditions by negatively affecting the outcomes of the underlying somatic disease. Nevertheless, research on distress in the course of hematological cancer is sparse to date. For this patient group, however, treatment is often more toxic and invasive than for other cancer populations. A subgroup of these patients is treated with stem cell transplantation (SCT) which is associated with many stressors including spatial isolation or fear of life-threatening complications. Existing results are inconsistent and primarily based on self-report questionnaires and small samples. Moreover, diagnostic criteria of trauma- and stressor-related disorders have recently been updated.


This German cross-sectional study will recruit at total of 600 hematological cancer patients, of which 300 will have undergone either autologous or allogeneic SCT. Participants will be assessed for trauma- and stressor-related disorders (adjustment disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder) using a structured clinical interview (SCID-5) based on updated diagnostic criteria. Qualitative investigation of the reported stressors will be used for differential diagnostic investigations and to examine which stressors are experienced as most distressing. Additionally, severity of distress (i.e., general distress as well as anxious, depressive and stressor-related symptomatology) will be assessed by validated questionnaires. We will (i) provide the prevalence of trauma- and stressor-related disorders, (ii) investigate medical and sociodemographic risk factors and (iii) compare the levels of distress within the patient group (SCT vs. non-SCT) and between patients and age- and gender-matched reference groups from the German general population.


This study will assess the prevalence of stressor-related disorders and the level of distress among hematological cancer patients across different treatment settings. Identification of medical and sociodemographic risk factors will help to closely monitor patients with a high risk of distress and to deliver psycho-oncological treatment as soon as possible. Comparisons between patients and norm values will be used to identify the need for psycho-oncological treatment in subgroups of hematological patients and thus help to further develop and implement tailored psycho-oncological interventions.
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