Stressors and Coping Strategies Among Female Cancer Survivors After Treatments


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Abstract

Although cancer survivors often face stressors and experience psychologic symptoms and distress, research on the particular stressors and coping strategies upon finishing cancer treatments is rare. The study purposes were to identify the stressors experienced and the strategies used by women cancer survivors at this phase of survivorship. The specific aims were to describe the stressors at the end of primary cancer treatments and delineate coping strategies that were used and helpful. Using a longitudinal design, interviews were conducted within 4 weeks and 3 to 4 months after treatment. Participants (N = 51) were women aged 34 to 77, and had radiation and/or chemotherapy for primary breast or gynecologic cancers. Participants' primary stressors at the end of treatment included feelings of uncertainty about treatment, follow-up, and symptoms; physical concerns; difficulty concentrating, attitudes about body, and dealing with mortality. Participants used acceptance, religion, and distraction as primary coping strategies. These strategies also were rated highly as helpful coping strategies. Clinicians can provide anticipatory guidance, based upon previous survivors' strategies, as well as assess and address particular stressors at this phase. Nurses can design and test patient-centered interventions that address women's specific stressors and promote effective coping strategies among women at this phase of survivorship.

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