• quality of life;
  • illness intrusiveness;
  • stress process;
  • chronic disease;
  • cancer;
  • age;
  • education;
  • income;
  • stressful life events


The illness intrusiveness theoretical framework maintains that illness-induced lifestyle disruptions compromise quality of life in chronic life-threatening conditions and that this effect is moderated by social, psychological, and contextual factors. Considerable evidence indicates that lifestyle disruptions compromise quality of life in cancer and other diseases and that the effects differ across life domains. The hypothesis that contextual factors (e.g. age, education, income, stressful life events) moderate these effects has not been tested extensively. We investigated whether age, income, education, and/or recent stressful life events modify the experience of illness intrusiveness across three central life domains (Relationships and Personal Development, Intimacy, and Instrumental life) in six common cancers. A sample of 656 cancer outpatients with one of six common cancers (breast, prostate, lymphoma, lung, head and neck, and gastrointestinal, all n's>100) completed the Illness Intrusiveness Ratings Scale while awaiting follow-up appointments with an oncologist. Results indicated statistically significant (all p's<0.05) interactions involving each of the hypothesized moderator variables and the Life Domain factor. In each case, greatest divergence was evident when illness intrusiveness involved instrumental life domains (e.g. work, finances, health, and active recreation). The findings substantiate the illness intrusiveness theoretical framework and support its relevance for people with cancer. The psychosocial impact of chronic life-threatening disease differs across life domains and depends on the context in which it is experienced. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.