The outcomes of a 10-week cognitive-behavioral stress management (CBSM) group intervention were evaluated in prostate cancer survivors. A model was tested in which CBSM-related improvements in emotional well-being were attained through changes in men's perceptions of their condition, as conceptualized by information processing explanations of self-regulation theory. The model also tested whether life stress and treatment-related side effects moderated intervention effects.
Men treated for localized prostate cancer (n = 257) within the past 18 months were randomized to CBSM or a half-day psycho-educational seminar. At pre-intervention and 12-week follow-up, emotional well-being, illness perceptions, life stress, and sexual and urinary function were assessed using validated questionnaires.
After controlling for covariates, CBSM participants showed greater improvements in emotional well-being relative to control participants (β = 0.13, p < 0.05). For men reporting higher stress upon study entry, CBSM-related improvements were partially explained by changes in some, but not all, illness perceptions. Sexual and urinary dysfunction did not influence CBSM-related gains.
Prostate cancer perceptions may be an important target for enhancing emotional well-being, particularly for men experiencing general life stress. However, interventions that explicitly target mental representations of cancer may be needed to modify perceptions of the disease. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.