Am I a Survivor? Illness Identity, Centrality, and Well-Being among Cancer Survivors
Surviving cancer often involves identity reconstruction and the integration of the experience into one’s identity. The goal of this study was to contribute to the limited research on illness centrality among cancer survivors by examining the relationship between illness centrality and its effects on meaning in life, life satisfaction, and benefit finding. Contrary to what was hypothesized, illness centrality was positively related to meaning in life and unrelated to life satisfaction. However, as hypothesized, there was a significant positive association between illness centrality and benefit finding. As predicted, the relationship between illness centrality and both meaning in life and life satisfaction were moderated by stress-related growth, such that illness centrality was only related to higher meaning in life when stress-related growth was positive and was only related to lower life satisfaction when stress-related growth was negative. Research findings suggest that post-cancer, individuals may begin to reconstruct their identity by adopting cancer-related identity labels. Despite differing attitudes related to the term “cancer survivor,” this term can have positive associations with well-being. This study found that identifying as a cancer survivor was positively associated with stress-related growth, meaning in life, life satisfaction, and benefit finding. Furthermore, some research suggests that how cancer survivors respond to having had cancer varies across the lifespan. Young adults have been found to experience greater impacts associated with cancer and yet are not as extensively studied as their older counterparts. This study explored the relationship between age and this study’s main variables and found that age was negatively correlated with illness centrality but unrelated to well-being outcome variables.
Counseling Psychology|Psychology|Mental health
Guerrero, Minerva, "Am I a Survivor? Illness Identity, Centrality, and Well-Being among Cancer Survivors" (2019). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI22587363.
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