Objective: Survival rates of cancer have significantly increased. However, cancer survivors face physical, psychological and social difficulties, while adjusting to post-illness status. We examined between-gender differences in the psychological adjustment (mental well-being, distress and subjective level of functioning), the putative origin of those differences, and the roles of cognitive appraisal, hardiness and attachment style in the psychological adjustment of melanoma survivors.
Methods: Our sample included 300 malignant melanoma survivors (182 women and 118 men). Most were diagnosed in stages IA and IB of the disease, and had no evidence of disease for 5 years or more. Participants completed self-report questionnaires regarding personal data, adjustment measured by sense of well-being, distress and subjective functioning, cognitive appraisal (primary and secondary) and personal resources (hardiness and attachment style).
Results: Between-gender differences were revealed in psychological adjustment and in various components of cognitive appraisal and attachment styles. Women revealed more distress, less secondary cognitive appraisal and were more secure in attachment styles. Men showed higher secondary appraisal and were more dismissing-avoidant in attachment. No between-group differences were found in mental well-being, subjective functioning, and primary cognitive appraisal or in the global measure of hardiness.
Conclusions: We present social processes that seem to account for gender differences in behavior and response to stress, and psychological explanations for these findings. This study contributes to the field of psycho-oncology by identifying factors that promote adjustment among melanoma survivors. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.