A descriptive systematic review of the relationship between personality traits and quality of life of women with non-metastatic breast cancer

Veerle Marieke Wintraecken*, Sophie Vulik, Sabine de Wild, Carmen Dirksen, Linetta B Koppert, Jolanda de Vries, Marjolein L Smidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


BACKGROUND: Quality of life (QoL) is an important patient-reported outcome that has been studied extensively as an endpoint. There is a growing interest in factors that may influence QoL, such as personality. This descriptive systematic review examined the relationship between personality and QoL in women with non-metastatic breast cancer. METHODS: On November 24th, 2020, with a update on March 7th, 2022, PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science and Embase were systematically searched for studies that assessed the direct relationship between personality traits and QoL among adult women diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer. The National Institutes of Health Study Quality Assessment Tool was used to assess the quality and risk of bias of the included studies. Three reviewers independently extracted data regarding objectives, population, setting, design, method, outcome measurements and key results. The results are descriptively reported.

RESULTS: Twelve studies (6 cohort studies and 6 cross-sectional studies) were included. Three studies were rated as poor, one study was rated as good, and the remaining studies were rated as moderate. There was a small to moderate effect of personality on QoL as correlation coefficients ranged from 0.10 to 0.77, and the explained variance ranged from 4 to 43%. The (strength of the) relationship depended on the personality trait and QoL domain that was measured and was most apparent for the personality traits 'optimism' and 'trait anxiety' on psychosocial QoL domains. The results for the personality traits (unmitigated) agency, agreeableness, conscientiousness, novelty seeking, and self-efficacy indicated a smaller but statistically significant correlation between these personality traits and QoL.

CONCLUSIONS: The results confirm that personality affects QoL in women with non-metastatic breast cancer and thus provides evidence that personality traits are indeed important influential factors of QoL. It is therefore strongly recommended for all future QoL research to measure personality traits and use these variables as predictive factors, as they are needed to accurately interpret QoL. Information regarding personality traits provide physicians and patients with an interpretation of low or deterioration of QoL, which could guide physicians to improve their patients' health outcomes and subsequently QoL using psycho-oncological support or treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number426
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2022


  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Personality
  • Quality of Life/psychology
  • Quality of life
  • Personality traits
  • Breast neoplasm

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