Study Reports Relationship Between Self-Reported Cognitive Abilities and Depression/Anxiety in Breast Cancer Survivors

By Dustin Samples - January 24, 2023

Breast cancer survivors (BSCs) report a number of cognitive and psychological concerns related to their cancer treatment. These concerns include anxiety and depressive symptoms. Researchers at The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, New Courtland Center for Transitions and Health, Philadelphia, and The Ohio State University College of Nursing, Columbus, wanted to determine if any association existed between these symptoms and self-conceptualization of cognitive ability.

The researchers objectives were to “examine the relationship between self-reported cognitive ability and psychological symptoms (anxiety and depressive symptoms) controlling for potential confounders of age, education, and time posttreatment and, secondarily, examine the relationship between self-reported cognitive domains (attention, language, visuoperception, visual memory, and verbal memory) and psychological symptoms.”

The report synthesized the results of 2 separate studies in which BCSs (N=155; average age, 54.8 years) completed the Multiple Ability Self-report Questionnaire (cognitive ability), Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory—State (anxiety), and Center for Epidemiological Studies—Depression Scale (depressive symptoms).

“In bivariate correlations, higher anxiety and depressive symptoms were significantly related to cognitive abilities in all domains (P = <.01). In the regression model, increased anxiety was associated with poorer cognitive abilities in all domains (P < .01),” the report stated.

The correlation between self-reported cognitive decrements and anxiety/depression is interesting and merits more research. The authors believe this information will be useful in treatment planning and for comprehensive symptom management.


The relationship between self-reported cognitive abilities and psychological symptoms in breast cancer survivors.