How prostate cancer patients cope: Evaluation and refinement of the Prostate Cancer Patients' Coping Strategies Questionnaire
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Background: Prostate cancer (PCa) patients suffer from identifiable stressors that may cause them anxiety and/or depression. In a previous study, an initial exploration of the ways in which PCa patients seek to cope with those stressors was described. However, several methodological limitations prevented direct comparisons of the relative effectiveness of patients’ coping strategies. To further investigate this issue, a standardised format was used to present the most commonly-used coping strategies to a new sample of PCa patients and to compare the effectiveness of those strategies.
Methods: A total of 147 PCa patients completed a background questionnaire and the Prostate Cancer Patients’ Coping Strategies Questionnaire (which includes 16 common stressors experienced by PCa patients plus a list of Coping Strategies for each stressor item).
Results: The most common stressors included physical, emotional, cognitive and relationship aspects of PCa. Although the coping strategies most used were ‘‘Just accepted it’’ and ‘‘Exercise/Activity’’, these were not the most effective strategies. Data indicated that the strategies that received higher ratings of Overall Clinical Efficacy were either specific to particular stressors, which were clearly defined, or more general to less well-defined stressors. The strategies that were rated as ‘‘Very successful’’ by participants who used them were also a mixture of specific and general responses.
Conclusion: PCa patients’ ability to respond effectively to the kinds of stressors they encounter appears to be dependent upon the specificity of the stressor itself, with more general responses being made to stressors that were less specific in their effects upon patients. Implications for assessment of PCa patients’ ability to cope with the stress they experience, and methods of developing individualised coping strategies, are discussed.
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