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Rumination, post-traumatic growth, and distress: structural equation modelling with cancer survivors

Bronwyn A Morris, Jane Shakespeare-Finch
Psycho-oncology 2011, 20 (11): 1176-83
20731009

OBJECTIVE: Theoretical models of post-traumatic growth (PTG) have been derived in the general trauma literature to describe the post-trauma experience that facilitates the perception of positive life changes. To develop a statistical model identifying factors that are associated with PTG, structural equation modelling (SEM) was used in the current study to assess the relationships between perception of diagnosis severity, rumination, social support, distress, and PTG.

METHOD: A statistical model of PTG was tested in a sample of participants diagnosed with a variety of cancers (N=313).

RESULTS: An initial principal components analysis of the measure used to assess rumination revealed three components: intrusive rumination, deliberate rumination of benefits, and life purpose rumination. SEM results indicated that the model fit the data well and that 30% of the variance in PTG was explained by the variables. Trauma severity was directly related to distress, but not to PTG. Deliberately ruminating on benefits and social support were directly related to PTG. Life purpose rumination and intrusive rumination were associated with distress.

CONCLUSIONS: The model showed that in addition to having unique correlating factors, distress was not related to PTG, thereby providing support for the notion that these are discrete constructs in the post-diagnosis experience. The statistical model provides support that post-diagnosis experience is simultaneously shaped by positive and negative life changes and that one or the other outcome may be prevalent or may occur concurrently. As such, an implication for practice is the need for supportive care that is holistic in nature.

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