Psychological distress and cognitive coping in pregnant women diagnosed with cancer and their partners

Psychooncology. 2017 Aug;26(8):1215-1221. doi: 10.1002/pon.4301. Epub 2016 Nov 21.


Objective: A cancer diagnosis during pregnancy may be considered as an emotional challenge for pregnant women and their partners. We aimed to identify women and partners at risk for high levels of distress based on their coping profile.

Methods: Sixty-one pregnant women diagnosed with cancer and their partners filled out the Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (CERQ) and the newly constructed Cancer and Pregnancy Questionnaire (CPQ). K-means cluster analysis was performed on the CERQ scales. Scores on the CPQ were compared between the women and their partners and between the CERQ-clusters.

Results: Comparison of women and partners on the CPQ did not reveal significant differences on distress about the child's health, the cancer disease, and the pregnancy or on information satisfaction (P = .16, P = .44, P = .50, and P = .47, respectively). However, women were more inclined to maintain the pregnancy than their partners (P = .011). Three clusters were retrieved based on the CERQ scales, characterized by positive coping, internalizing coping, and blaming. Women and partners using internalizing strategies had significantly higher scores on concerns about the child's health (P = .039), the disease and treatment (P < .001), and the pregnancy and delivery (P = .009) compared with positive and blaming strategies. No cluster differences were found for information satisfaction (P = .71) and tendency to maintain the pregnancy (P = .35).

Conclusion: Women and partners using internalizing coping strategies deal with the highest levels of distress and may benefit from additional psychosocial support.

Keywords: cancer; cognitive coping; cognitive emotion regulation; distress; oncology; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / psychology*
  • Sense of Coherence
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires