Cancer survivorship is best viewed as a process that continues across the life span. Appraisals of cancer change over time and may not be explicit until long after treatment completion. The current study, using the Lazarus and Folkman (1984) stress-appraisal-coping framework, explored factors related to both a stressful and an irrelevant appraisal of the cancer experience by older long-term survivors. Hierarchical regression analysis investigated the individual and cumulative effects of person factors (survivors' demographic characteristics, beliefs about the effect of cancer on family members) and situation factors (characteristics of cancer) on survivors' appraisals that cancer was a stressful life event. The strongest correlates of the stress appraisal were person factors. A more stressful appraisal was associated with: (1). the belief that diagnosis/treatment caused greater family distress, (2). being younger, and (3). being White. The irrelevant appraisal had a marginally significant correlate in bivariate analysis and was not included in regression analysis. Implications for health-care professionals and patient/family interventions are discussed.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.