Coping strategies of long-term cancer survivors

Cancer Nurs. 1994 Apr;17(2):94-100.


Cancer survival is a stressful experience requiring coping for the maintenance of equilibrium. Lazarus' Theory of Stress and Coping was the framework for this descriptive study of the use and effectiveness of coping strategies as assessed by long-term survivors of cancer. The Jalowiec Coping Scale (JCS) and a subject information sheet (SIS) were mailed to 128 potential subjects, identified by the snowball technique, who survived cancer for > 5 years, were not currently receiving therapy, and were not in a terminal stage of disease. Fifty-nine subjects with a mean survival of 13.03 years correctly completed and returned the questionnaire and were included in data analysis. Respondents were predominantly white (88.1%), female (83.7%), married (72.8%), employed as professionals (57.8%), 41-65 years of age (59.3%), and diagnosed with breast cancer (50.8%). Subjects rated optimistic, supportive, and confrontive strategies as most often used and effective. Length of survival did not result in different choices of strategies. Statistically significant differences were found in coping styles between elderly and middle-aged survivors. Results of this study increase nurses' awareness of effective coping strategies and the importance of assessment of coping in long-term survivors of cancer. The importance of social support, spirituality, and helping others is emphasized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Choice Behavior
  • Female
  • Helping Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Sampling Studies
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / nursing
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Time Factors