cancer pesimism


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Unformatted text preview: PERSONALITY PROCESSES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES Dispositional Pessimism Predicts Illness-Related Disruption of Social and Recreational Activities Among Breast Cancer Patients Charles S. Carver, Jessica M. Lehman, and Michael H. Antoni University of Miami The authors tested whether dispositional pessimism would predict withdrawal from social activities among women treated for breast cancer. In a cross-sectional sample 3–12 months postsurgery, disruption of social and recreational activities (measured by the Sickness Impact Profile) correlated with concur- rently assessed pessimism. This association appeared mediated by emotional distress and fatigue. A longitudinal sample was studied shortly postsurgery and over the next year. Initial pessimism predicted disruption of social activities concurrently and prospectively (3, 6, and 12 months later) but predicted change in disruption from one time to the next only at final follow-up. These associations appeared partially mediated by distress. The authors conclude that pessimism places patients at risk for adverse outcomes in several respects rather than solely with regard to emotional distress. Individual differences in dispositional optimism versus pessi- mism about one’s future, assessed as generalized expectancies, have been the subject of a great deal of research over a period of nearly 2 decades (for reviews see, e.g., Carver & Scheier, 2001; Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 2001). Much of that research has focused on differences in psychological well-being: more specif- ically, the role that this personality dimension plays in the subjec- tive emotional reactions that people have when they confront difficulties or stresses in their lives. The range of stressors involved in that research is very broad. Studies have examined the experiences of students entering col- lege (Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992; Brissette, Scheier, & Carver, 2002), employees of businesses (Long, 1993), survivors of missile attacks (Zeidner & Hammer, 1992), and caregivers of medical patients (Given et al., 1993; Hooker, Monahan, Shifren, & Hutchinson, 1992; Shifren & Hooker, 1995). Other studies have focused on people dealing with medical procedures such as child- birth (Carver & Gaines, 1987; Park, Moore, Turner, & Adler, 1997), abortion (Cozzarelli, 1993), coronary artery bypass surgery (Fitzgerald, Tennen, Affleck, & Pransky, 1993; Scheier et al., 1989), attempts at in vitro fertilization (Litt, Tennen, Affleck, & Klock, 1992), and bone marrow transplantation (Curbow, Somer- field, Baker, Wingard, & Legro, 1993). Research has examined how people deal with a cancer diagnosis (Carver et al., 1993; Friedman et al., 1992; Stanton & Snider, 1993) and the progression of AIDS (Taylor et al., 1992). Nor does this list exhaust the range of stressors examined in research on this topic (see Scheier et al., 2001). As a whole, this work supports the conclusion that optimists confronting such difficulties experience less distress than do pes-...
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