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Posttraumatic Growth Following Cancer: Links to Quality of Life


  • This study was supported by grants from the American Cancer Society to the first author (PF PBP-104706) and the National Cancer Institute to the second author (RO1 CA79752). Portions were presented at the 2009 Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting in Montreal.

Correspondence should be addressed to Patricia L. Tomich, Department of Psychology, Kent State University, 4314 Mahoning Avenue NW, Warren, OH 44483. E-mail:


This study examined the linkage of posttraumatic growth (PTG) to quality of life (QOL) among individuals newly diagnosed with cancer. Individuals (26 men, 36 women) reported PTG 3 months postdiagnosis (T1) and 3 months later (T2). Cross-sectional analyses revealed a linear association between PTG and QOL—more PTG was related to worse mental health at T1 (β = −.28). PTG, however, revealed a quadratic relationship with depressive symptoms at T1 and physical health at T2: Individuals with high or low levels of PTG had fewer depressive symptoms and better QOL than those with moderate levels. Longitudinal analyses revealed a linear association between PTG and QOL; more PTG at T1 predicted better physical health at T2. There were no longitudinal curvilinear associations. Although the linear links of PTG to QOL were contradictory within this study, both of the curvilinear relations, although not robust, confirm previous research. Further analyses differentiated low, medium, and high PTG groups in terms of perceiving cancer as stressful, intrusive thoughts, and coping strategies. Overall, relations of PTG to adjustment may be more complex and dynamic than previously assumed. Clinicians should consider the notion that more growth may sometimes, but not always, be better.