The report of posttraumatic growth in Malaysian cancer patients: relationships with psychological distress and coping strategies

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The challenge of a cancer diagnosis may eventually lead to the experience of positive psychological changes, also referred to asposttraumatic growth. As most research on posttraumatic growth in cancer patients has been conducted in Western countries, little is known about the experience of such positive psychological changes in non-Western countries. Therefore, the purpose of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the prevalence of posttraumatic growth in a Malaysian sample of cancer patients. Secondly, we examined the association of posttraumatic growth with patients' report of psychological distress and their use of coping strategies.


The study was conducted in 113 cancer patients. Posttraumatic growth was measured by the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, coping strategies by the brief COPE, and psychological distress by the Symptom Check List (SCL-90-R).


Results showed that many patients reported posttraumatic growth, mostly in the domain of appreciation of life. As hypothesized, the experience of posttraumatic growth was not significantly related to the level of psychological distress. Findings indicated that greater use of the coping strategies instrumental support, positive reframing, and humor was associated with more posttraumatic growth.


Overall, this study suggests that posttraumatic growth is not only a Western phenomenon. Malaysian cancer patients show similar trends in the report of growth as well as in its correlates as their Western counterparts.

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