How Coping Mediates the Effect of Optimism on Distress: A Study of Women With Early Stage Breast Cancer

Charles S. Carver, Christina Pozo, Suzanne D. Harris, Victoria Noriega, Michael F. Scheier, David S. Robinson, Alfred S. Ketcham, Frederick L. Moffat, Kimberley C. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1220 Scopus citations

Abstract

At diagnosis, 59 breast cancer patients reported on their overall optimism about life; 1 day presurgery, 10 days postsurgery, and at 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups, they reported their recent coping responses and distress levels. Optimism related inversely to distress at each point, even controlling for prior distress. Acceptance, positive reframing, and use of religion were the most common coping reactions; denial and behavioral disengagement were the least common reactions. Acceptance and the use of humor prospectively predicted lower distress; denial and disengagement predicted more distress. Path analyses suggested that several coping reactions played mediating roles in the effect of optimism on distress. Discussion centers on the role of various coping reactions in the process of adjustment, the mechanisms by which dispositional optimism versus pessimism appears to operate, third variable issues, and applied implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-390
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume65
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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