Illness centrality, disclosure, and well-being in younger and middle-aged adult cancer survivors

Authors


Crystal L. Park, Psychology Department, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA (e-mail: crystal.park@uconn.edu).

Abstract

Objectives. Cancer survivorship is often linked with identity reconstruction, and the extent to which individuals identify with their cancer experience may be an important aspect of their adjustment to longer-term cancer survivorship. However, little is known about the extent to which cancer is central to one's identity or the relations of centrality of cancer to identity with well-being. Further, the impact of cancer identity centrality might be moderated by the extent to which survivors openly disclose their survivorship status. The present study examined centrality of cancer and well-being along with the potential moderation effect of disclosure.

Design and methods. Using a cross-sectional design, 167 participants (cancer survivors aged 18–55, diagnosed 1–3 years prior) completed measures of demographics, centrality of cancer identity, openness/disclosure, and well-being (including health-related quality of life [HRQOL], positive and negative affect, intrusive thoughts, life satisfaction, and post-traumatic growth).

Results. Cancer identity centrality was fairly low while disclosure/openness was fairly high. In regression analyses, centrality was adversely related to most measures of well-being, except unrelated to physical HRQOL and post-traumatic growth. Openness/disclosure about cancer survivorship status was positively related to most measures of well-being but did not moderate relationships between centrality and well-being.

Conclusions. These findings support the notion that both cancer identity centrality and openness/disclosure are important aspects of the cancer survivorship experience that may impact well-being and warrant further research.

Ancillary