Title. Coping experiences of adolescents with cancer: a qualitative study.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study of the coping experiences of Taiwanese adolescents with cancer.
Background. Cancer treatments have adverse effects and negatively affect adolescents’ lives. Psychological coping strategies are antecedents to adjustment. Little is known about the essential structure of the coping experience in adolescents with cancer.
Method. Ten adolescents aged 12–18 years who were receiving chemotherapy were interviewed in 2007. Open-ended interviews were conducted in a quiet in-hospital setting. Interview data were analysed using Giorgi’s four-step procedures.
Findings. The essential structures of the coping experience were losing confidence and rebuilding hope. Losing confidence included sub-themes of physical and psychological suffering; rebuilding hope included sub-themes of thought restructuring, revaluing what I have, and envisioning hopeful images of the future. Interviewees vacillated between moving on and giving up, depending on the strength of their hope. A focus on rebuilding hope helped the adolescents to move on in the midst of many distressful events.
Conclusion. Understanding adolescents’ coping processes relative to cancer can facilitate the establishment of a more supportive milieu. The findings can provide guidance for instrument development on coping for adolescents with cancer and be useful in guiding intervention development to promote positive psychological adjustment.