The role of coping in the relationship between stressful life events and quality of life in persons with cancer

Thomas V Merluzzi, Andrea Chirico, Samantha Serpentini, Miao Yang, Errol J Philip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Stressful life events (SLEs) impact the quality of life (QOL) of cancer patients. This study investigated the mediation of the relationship between SLEs and QOL (Model 1: Emotional-EQOL and Model 2: Physical/Functional-PFQOL by three types of coping: Action/Planning, Support/Advise-Seeking, and Disengagement/Denial). Design and Main Measures: 662 persons with cancer completed a Stressful Life Events Checklist, the Brief COPE scale, the FACT Emotional, Physical, and Functional Scales, and the Physical Impact Scale of the Sickness Impact Profile.

RESULTS: SLEs were positively associated with Action/Planning (Model 1: B = 0.195, 95% CI = [0.089, 0.304]; Model 2: B = 0.192, 95% CI = [0.086, 0.289]) and Disengagement/Denial (Model 1: B = 0.394, 95% CI = [0.281, 0.513]; Model 2: B = .392, 95% CI = [0.285, 0.508]) but not Support/Advice-Seeking; however, only Disengagement/Denial was related to Emotional-QOL (Model 1: B = -0.659, 95% CI = [-0.848, -0.498]) and Physical/Functional-QOL (Model 2: B = -1.460, 95% CI = [-1.856, -1.069]). Thus, only Disengagement/Denial mediated the relationship between SLEs and QOL.

CONCLUSIONS: The results indicated that SLEs represent a class of events for which there may be only one dominant coping response, disengagement. SLEs may not be controllable or predictable and reduce capacity for active coping with serious illness. However, SLEs may be detected at any point in the cancer trajectory so that supportive services might be provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-513
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms/psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological/psychology


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