Psychological flexibility correlates with patient-reported outcomes independent of clinical or sociodemographic characteristics

Nicholas J. Hulbert-Williams*, Lesley Storey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The evidence for the effectiveness of psychological interventions for cancer patients is currently unclear. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which increases individual’s levels of psychological flexibility, may be more effective than other frameworks of psychological intervention, but good quality research is needed to inform adoption and implementation. This study explored the correlation between psychological flexibility and patient-reported outcomes to assess the viability of this intervention for cancer survivors. Methods: Recruitment was coordinated through a regional cancer centre. One hundred twenty-nine respondents completed a cross-sectional postal questionnaire. They were of mixed gender, diagnosis and cancer stage; a mean 61 years old; and a mean 207 days post-diagnosis. Self-report questionnaires assessed psychological flexibility, mood, anxiety, depression, stress, quality of life and benefit finding. Results: Psychological flexibility was a strong and consistent correlate of outcome; effects were maintained even when potentially confounding clinical and sociodemographic characteristics were controlled. Conclusions: Psychological flexibility can be modified through ACT-based interventions. Given the strong correlational evidence found in this study, it seems that such interventions might be useful for cancer survivors. High-quality and well-designed controlled trials are now needed to establish effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2513-2521
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Acceptance
  • Cancer
  • Distress
  • Intervention
  • Oncology
  • Quality of life


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