Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Elizabeth M. Altmaier

Abstract

Research suggests that individuals experience Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) from chronic health conditions, such as the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. How PTG is perceived at early time points following stressful events and whether PTG reflects a coping process or actual outcome remains uncertain. Researchers have implemented research methodologies to validate reports of PTG (e.g., corroboration by partners/significant others), although most research designs are cross-sectional, which limit conclusions and subsequent implications. The current longitudinal study examined cancer patients` and significant others` perceptions of Anticipated Posttraumatic Growth (APTG), dispositional and situational coping, and PTG at three time points spanning pre-treatment to 9 months later. Participants consisted of 87 mixed-cancer patients and 55 collaterals (e.g., spouses, family members, friends, or other community members). At pre-treatment, patients and collaterals completed a modified Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) to assess APTG. Collaterals also completed a modified PTGI for patients. Results revealed that patients and collaterals reported high levels of APTG for themselves compared to reports of PTG in the literature. Patients` APTG was significantly higher than collaterals` APTG, although patients and collaterals experienced similar levels of PTG. Overall, patients over-anticipated PTG for all growth scales, and with the exception of the PTG scale of new possibilities, collaterals under-anticipated the level of growth they reported. For corroboration of growth, collaterals were accurate in anticipating the amount of PTG patients would experience, with the exception of the PTG scale of new possibilities. For patients, dispositional planning coping moderated a relationship between PTG and APTG, and situational planning coping mediated a relationship between APTG and PTG. Results of the current study provide evidence for APTG as a possible illusory phenomena, a coping process, and animportant precursor for later PTG. Additionally, the results have important considerations for the impact of cancer on the family and for growth as an observable construct. The findings are discussed in terms of relevant theory and implications for clinicians.

Keywords

CANCER, COPING, POSITIVE ILLUSION, POSTTRAUMATIC GROWTH

Pages

x, 186 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 167-186).

Copyright

Copyright 2011 Benjamin Ashley Tallman

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