The impact of cancer on psychosocial function and quality of life: A cross-sectional study in 18 pan-European countries

Svetlana Bazilainsky, Miri Cohen, Karen Holtmaat, Brach Erlich, Irma M. Verdonck-de Leeuw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To improve psychosocial cancer care in Europe, more information is needed on psychosocial function and quality of life (QoL) among cancer patients in European countries. Aims: To investigate differences in psychosocial function between cancer survivors and the general population in Europe, in relation to national economic status and personal factors. Method: Data were from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (Wave 6). Main outcomes were psychosocial functioning: activity limitations, income adequacy, loneliness, depression, and QoL. Factors possibly associated with the main outcomes were ever having cancer, gross domestic product (GDP), and personal factors (age, gender, education, marriage status, employment status, number of children, number of chronic diseases). Results: The study sample featured 6238 cancer survivors and 60,961 individuals without cancer aged 50 or older in 17 European countries and Israel. Levels of depression were higher and QoL was lower among cancer survivors compared to individuals without cancer and worse in low GDP countries, whereas differences in income adequacy and loneliness were not statistically significant. The interaction of cancer groups and country groups indicated a significant interactional effect on activity limitations, loneliness, depression, and QoL. In a multivariate regression analysis, personal factors, GDP, and being a cancer survivor predicted the main outcome variables. Conclusions: Cancer has a persistent negative effect on survivors that is related to a country's GDP. Cancer survivors in low-GDP countries are affected by the consequences of cancer intertwined with the hardships of living in a low-GDP country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-392
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Early online date5 Jan 2023
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Psycho-Oncology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Europe
  • activity limitations
  • cancer
  • depression
  • gross domestic product
  • income adequacy
  • loneliness
  • oncology
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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