The effects of personal and social resources, and relationship-focused coping on distress among couples confronted with gynecological cancer
Harpur, Lisa Lorraine
The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of how personal resources and coping strategies relate to distress in the coping efforts of husbands and wives six to 36 months (x = 25 months) post diagnosis for gynecological cancer (ovarian, cervical, uterine). Specifically, measures of relationship-focused coping (active engagement AE; protective buffering, PB), personal resources (self-esteem and mastery combined, PR), and intimacy were examined in relation to distress (feelings of depression and anxiety, combined). Fifty-two couples, 22-69 years old, from Saskatoon and surrounding area were sent questionnaires to assess how they were currently coping with the cancer diagnosis. Regression analyses were performed on patient and spouse personal resources, coping strategies, and intimacy to evaluate their relationship to distress. Patient distress was negatively related to patient personal resources and patient intimacy. A significant relationship was also found in both patient and spouse PB with the patients' distress level (lower distress) related to the patient doing less PB and the spouse doing more PB. Additionally. patient distress was positively related to spouse AE. A regression analysis on spouse distress indicated a significant negative relationship to spouse PR and a significant positive relationship to spouse PB. Thus. while spouse PB was beneficial to the patient's level of distress, it was detrimental to spouse's distress level. The fact that spouses who were most supportive of their wives were also most vulnerable for distress needs to be addressed. Theoretical implications are based on Hobfoll's Conservation of Resource Theory (Hobfoll, 1988). Clinical implications are discussed with an emphasis on the need to further explore how couples cope with cancer in order to minimize their distress and assist them in the process of recovery.