Psychological distress among survivors of esophageal cancer: the role of illness cognitions and coping

Martin Dempster, Noleen K McCorry, Emma Brennan, Michael Donnelly, Liam Murray, Brian T Johnston
Diseases of the Esophagus: Official Journal of the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus 2012, 25 (3): 222-7
Leventhal's common sense model has provided a useful framework for explaining psychological distress in several chronic illnesses. The model indicates that a person's perception of their illness and their coping strategies are the key determinants of their experience of psychological distress. The present research examines whether illness perceptions and coping strategies are related to levels of psychological distress among survivors of esophageal cancer. Everyone registered with the Oesophageal Patients' Association in the UK was mailed a questionnaire booklet, which included the Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised, the Cancer Coping Questionnaire, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Complete responses were received from 484 people. Regression models indicated that the variables measured could explain 51% of the variance in anxiety and 42% of the variance in depression. Perceptions of esophageal cancer explained the majority of this variance. Positive focus coping strategies were also found to be important in explaining psychological distress. The results of this study are consistent with previous research demonstrating that illness perceptions are stronger correlates of adaptive outcomes than coping strategies. The findings suggest that cognition-based interventions could potentially be most effective in minimizing emotional distress among survivors of esophageal cancer.

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