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Keywords:

  • gynaecological cancer;
  • sense of coherence;
  • demoralisation;
  • oncology;
  • worldview

Abstract

Background: Demoralisation is a dysphoric mood state commonly seen in the medically ill. Its core features comprise hopelessness, helplessness, loss of purpose and meaning, despair, and existential distress. Sense of Coherence (SOC) is a quantifiable dispositional orientation that captures the character traits likely to protect against demoralisation. In this study, we hypothesised on theoretical grounds that a strong SOC would be associated with lower levels of demoralisation in the context of gynaecological cancer (GC).

Method: One hundred and twenty women with a recent (<12 months) diagnosis of GC were recruited from outpatient clinics. Participants were interviewed and completed questionnaire measures of demoralisation and SOC. A multiple regression analysis was performed using the five subscales of the Demoralisation Scale as predictor variables and SOC as the dependent variable.

Results: Together, the five subscales of the Demoralisation Scale accounted for 60% of the variance in SOC.

Conclusions: The results supported the hypothesis, suggesting that SOC may be protective against demoralisation in the context of serious illness. Larger, multivariate studies that examine additional variables (such as coping) would be required to further clarify the relationship between SOC and demoralisation. In the meantime, clinicians may want to consider efforts to enhance SOC in patients. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.