Gastrointestinal stromal tumor: Psychosocial characteristics and considerations

Lori Wiener, Haven Battles, Sima Zadeh, Carly J. Smith, Lee J. Helman, Su Young Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) are very rare, especially within the pediatric population. The National Institutes of Health initiated a multidisciplinary clinic to bring together a worldwide group of healthcare providers with experience in the study and treatment of GIST in order to better understand the disease and to examine whether this is a population at psychosocial risk. Methods: Seven GIST clinics have been held to date. Participants completed a GIST Psychosocial Assessment containing items covering demographic factors, family stressors, general health, psychosocial concerns, psychiatric history, and selfidentified needs. Our sample consists of 60 adult patients (ages 18-66) and 18 pediatric patients (ages 9-17). Results: Living with pain at least a few days a week was endorsed by those whose self-reported health status was good to excellent (49% of the adult cohort and 25% of the pediatric cohort). Pain was significantly associated with anxiety, difficulties with family relationships, behavior problems, and psychotropic medication use. Body image and appearance concerns were endorsed by over half of the cohort. Posttrauma symptoms were prevalent for those newly diagnosed and those living with GIST for over 15 years. Conclusions: This is the first study to explore the psychosocial impact of GIST. Individuals living with GIST experience chronic pain, post-trauma symptoms and significant anxiety along with an expressed need for interventions to help them manage their anxiety. Due to the chronic nature of this disease, the GIST population is at risk for long-term psychological distress. Psychosocial interventions in pediatric and adult care settings are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1343-1349
Number of pages7
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012


  • Anxiety
  • Body image
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)
  • Pain
  • Posttraumatic stress symptoms
  • Psychosocial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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  • Cite this

    Wiener, L., Battles, H., Zadeh, S., Smith, C. J., Helman, L. J., & Kim, S. Y. (2012). Gastrointestinal stromal tumor: Psychosocial characteristics and considerations. Supportive Care in Cancer, 20(6), 1343-1349.