The suspected and confirmed diagnosis of breast cancer evokes feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt, frustration, and vulnerability in an individual. A woman diagnosed with breast cancer may utilize a variety of coping mechanisms. This descriptive study sought to identify the most common and most effective coping mechanisms utilized by women survivors of breast cancer answering the following research question: Which coping mechanisms are most effective and most frequently utilized by women survivors of breast cancer? This study used the theory of Lazarus and Folkman (1984) as a framework for understanding coping. The final sample (N = 20) consisted of women survivors of breast cancer in support groups between the ages of 3 6 and 83 years. Data from a demographic sheet and the Jalowiec Coping Scale questionnaire were analyzed using descriptive statistics of frequency, distribution, and measures of central tendency. Results determined that the three highest scored coping styles were Optimistic, Supportive, and Self-Reliant, while the three lowest 111 scored coping styles were Emotive, Evasive, and Fatalistic. Subjects were allowed to write in additional coping styles not included in the questionnaire. The following themes were identified in the write-in responses : spirituality, working outdoors, helping others, problem-focused behavior, and emotion-focused behavior. Based on the findings of this study, the researcher made the following recommendations for future research: (a) replication with a larger, more diverse group in diverse settings, (b) replication of a study that correlates demographic variables with coping styles of breast cancer, and (c) conduction of a study comparing coping mechanisms of women with breast cancer by length of time following diagnosis.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Dr. Lynn Chilton
Thomas, Elizabeth Polk, "Coping Mechanisms Utilized by Women Survivors of Breast Cancer" (1997). MSN Research Projects. 117.