An Extension of the Meaning Making Model Using Data From Chinese Cancer Patients: The Moderating Effect of Resilience

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Abstract

Objective: Meaning making refers to the process of integrating the appraised meaning of a traumatic event into one’s global belief system to reduce cognitive discrepancy. Park and Folkman (1997) proposed the renowned “meaning-making model,” which was a major contribution to trauma research from a positive psychology viewpoint. This concept is important for understanding the trauma of cancer patients, as searching for meaning is fairly common after a cancer diagnosis. However, the original model did not incorporate individual differences in resilience, which might account for the fact that research on this model has produced contradictory results. Method: This study recruited 146 Chinese cancer patients and used different scales to measure each stage of the meaning-making process, resilience, posttraumatic growth (PTG), and anxiety/depression symptoms. A follow-up study was conducted after 6 months. Results: A structural equation model was constructed; meaning discrepancy triggered meaning making, predicted changes in situational and global beliefs, and ultimately resulted in better mental health outcomes. The moderating effect of resilience was noteworthy; the indirect effect of meaning making on the relationship between meaning discrepancy (Time 1 [T1]) and mental health outcomes (Time 2 [T2]) was significant in the low resilience group, but nonsignificant in the high resilience group. Conclusion: These results suggest that the effects of meaning-making processes may differ based on individual factors, such as resilience.

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