Objective: A cancer diagnosis may lead to the need to adjust personal goals. This study longitudinally investigates patients' use of goal adjustment strategies with goal characteristics over time. Whether and which goal adjustment strategies are used after cancer diagnosis may depend on the period studied (treatment period or follow-up period) and illness variables such as illness severity.
MethodsNewly diagnosed colorectal cancer patients (n=186) were asked about their personal goals during three assessments (within 1month after diagnosis and 6 and 18months after the first assessment). Eight goal adjustment strategies were assessed over the first 6months (treatment period) and between 7 and 18months (follow-up period) using goal characteristics. Illness variables were obtained from patients' medical records from the national cancer registry.
ResultsMost patients used one strategy per period, and patients most often shifted their priorities across life domains. During the treatment period, more patients formed shorter-term goals than during the follow-up period, while during the follow-up period, more patients formed longer-term goals than during the treatment period. Illness variables were not related to the use of goal adjustment strategies.
ConclusionsThe findings show that cancer patients use different goal adjustment strategies and, interestingly, that the use of specific strategies depended on the period after diagnosis but not on illness variables. Copyright (c) 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.