Living and Coping with Cancer : Specific Challenges and Adaptation

Sammanfattning: The overall aims of this thesis were to prospectively investigate how specific challenges among patients with commonly occurring cancers are related to adaptation and well-being, to predict later well-being using a range of psychosocial aspects and to compare two ways of measuring coping with cancer. This was studied at diagnosis in patients with gastrointestinal cancers and their spouses and at termination of cancer treatment and during follow-up in a heterogeneous group of cancers. At diagnosis, higher levels of psychological distress were accompanied both by more coping attempts and less perceived control over the stressful events. Somatic aspects and Everyday concerns were frequent stressful events. The most frequently used coping strategies were emotion-focused. The Daily Coping Assessment (DCA) rendered a varied picture of ways of handling the stressful events (Study I). When studying coping as a process, the DCA has advantages compared to the commonly used measure MAC, since DCA better separates coping from both the stressful event and outcome. A comparison of the DCA and the MAC rendered differences regarding the usage of coping strategies (Study II). Patients with higher levels of anxiety/depression also had higher discrepancies between attainment and importance for most life values compared to patients with less anxiety/depression. For the patients, but not for the spouses, the discrepancies for several life values along with anxiety and depression decreased over time (Study III). Anxiety/depression at termination of treatment are strong predictors for anxiety/depression and QoL at follow-up. However, other variables like psychiatric history, the bother an event caused, the coping strategy Acceptance, the stressful event Thoughts/affects and emotional and instrumental aspects of social support contributed to the prediction (Study IV). Thus, it is concluded that detailed information regarding specific and frequent situations among cancer patients is possible to reveal and necessary for a better understanding of what influences well-being.