How do cancer patients manage unattainable personal goals and regulate their emotions?

Maya Schroevers*, Vivian Kraaij, Nadia Garnefski

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

81 Citaten (Scopus)
756 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives. This article addressed the role of goal adjustment (i.e. disengagement from unattainable goals and reengagement in alternative goals) and cognitive emotion-regulation strategies (i.e. rumination, catastrophizing, positive refocusing) in cancer patients' psychological well-being. We expected that patients who are better able to disengage from unattainable goals, identify alternative goals, and regulate their emotions by positive refocusing and not engaging in rumination and catastrophizing would experience less negative and more positive affect.

Design. In this cross-sectional study, data were collected using a self-report questionnaire.

Methods. Cancer patients (N = 108) were recruited on a psychoeducational meeting aimed to inform them about the illness and its consequences. To examine the relationships between goal adjustment, cognitive emotion-regulation strategies, and affect, Pearson correlations were calculated and regression analyses were performed.

Results. Regression analyses showed that reengaging in meaningful goals and focusing on pleasant issues were significantly associated with more positive affect. Focusing on pleasant issues was also significantly associated with less negative affect, whereas rumination and catastrophizing were significantly associated with more negative affect.

Conclusions. Goal reengagement as well as cognitive emotion-regulation strategies seems to play an important role in cancer patients' psychological well-being. Health care professionals may assist patients in paying more attention to positive experiences in their daily life and in finding new meaningful goals. Techniques based on mindfulness may be used to assist cancer patients in decreasing the repetitive negative thinking about causes, meanings, and consequences of the illness and helping them to focus attention on the present moment.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)551-562
Aantal pagina's12
TijdschriftBritish Journal of Health Psychology
StatusPublished - sep-2008

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