Meaning and its measurement in psychosocial oncology


  • Craig A. White

    Corresponding author
    1. Section of Psychological Medicine, University of Glasgow Division of Community Based Sciences, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, 1055 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0XH, Scotland, UK
    2. Macmillan Consultant in Psychosocial Oncology, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Ayrshire Central Hospital, Kilwinning Road, Irvine KA12 8SS, Scotland, UK
    • NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Ayrshire Central Hospital, Kilwinning Road, Irvine, KA12 8SS, Scotland, UK
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Although ‘meaning’ is a construct that has been referred to for many years within psychological research, particularly in work to examine the ways in which individuals respond to crises or illness, it is only relatively recently that this has started to appear within the psychosocial oncology literature. Where the term has been used, there has been much variation in the way in which this has been operationalised and measured (a problem that has been evident within other areas of psychosocial oncology). This article will review some of the self-report measures that have been developed to assess levels of meaning, outlining their background and status regarding psychometric performance. This will be followed by some recommendations on measures that are particularly suited for use in further work. It is suggested that their application to examine conceptual issues of will be more productive if researchers aim to develop existing measures and not to create new measures. Use of those measures with better psychometric properties could in time facilitate larger data sets and allow for cross cultural comparisons of the impact of cancer on global and situational meaning. Specific recommendations are made for measures to be used in the assessment of global and situational meaning in cancer. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.