Routine screening for ovarian cancer (OC) can yield an abnormal result later deemed benign. Such false positive (FP) results have been shown to trigger distress, which generally resolves over time. However, women might differ in the trajectory of the distress experience. Women participating in a routine OC screening program (n
= 373) who received an abnormal screening result completed a baseline assessment prior to a follow-up screening test to clarify the nature of their abnormal result. All women were subsequently informed that no malignancy was present, and follow-up assessments were completed one and four months post-baseline. Demographic, clinical, dispositional (optimism, monitoring), and social environmental (social constraint, social support) variables were assessed at baseline. OC-specific distress was assessed at all three assessments. Trajectory analyses identified three distress trajectories differing in the baseline level of distress. A high decreasing trajectory, representing about 25% of women, was characterized by high levels of distress at baseline with distress declining over time, but still elevated at four-month follow-up. In contrast, a no distress trajectory group, representing about 30% of women, was characterized by essentially no distress at any time point. Principal risk factors for membership in the high decreasing trajectory group included a family history of OC, lower dispositional optimism, and greater social constraint. These risk factors could be used to target resources efficiently towards managing women at risk for potentially clinically-significant distress after receipt of an FP OC screening test.
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