First Advisor

Laurie Skokan

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Cancer -- Psychological aspects, Adjustment (Psychology), Control (Psychology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (80 p.)


This study proposed that a major function of coping is to regain perceptions of control that are threatened by the cancer experience and that perceived control mediates the relationship between coping and adjustment. Participants were 258 cancer patients, 61 % women and 39% men, aged 29 to 93 years. A variety of cancer sites were represented with breast and prostate cancer the most prevalent. Patterns of coping, perceived control in four areas (symptom-emotion, relationship, medical care, and disease control), and emotional adjustment were measured. It was expected that a sixth pattern of coping, problem-focused, would emerge when additional problem-focused items were added to the Ways of Coping-Cancer inventory. However, the expected problem-focused pattern was not distinct from the seek and use social support pattern. It was suggested that seeking and using social support may be a problem-focused strategy when dealing with relationships that are altered by the cancer experience. The study provided some support for the notion that symptom-emotion control has a greater influence than disease control on emotional adjustment as measured by the bipolar Profile of Mood States. However, all four areas of perceived control made substantial contributions to emotional adjustment. The findings only partially supported the proposed model in which perceived control mediated the relationship between coping and adjustment. All five patterns of coping influenced perceived control, and perceived control was strongly associated with emotional adjustment. The cognitive escape-avoidant pattern of coping exerted an indirect (mediated) influence on emotional adjustment through perceived control. The behavioral escape-avoidant and focus on the positive patterns exerted both indirect and direct influences on emotional adjustment. While social support and distancing coping patterns were not predictive of emotional adjustment, they did predict perceived control. It was suggested that efforts to bolster cancer patients' emotional adjustment should focus on both teaching positive coping strategies and on efforts to increase perceptions of control.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL

Persistent Identifier

Included in

Psychology Commons