Defense Date

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Marilyn Stern

Abstract

Adolescents with cancer are surviving at improved rates with levels of psychopathology in line with their healthy peers. Thus, recent psycho-oncology research is focusing on finding significant predictors to their positive adjustment and psychosocial functioning. The author examined adolescent cancer survivors (n = 50; diagnosis age = 10 – 21; 2 – 10 years post-diagnosis) to test the mediation effects of positive emotionns (satisfaction with life, subjective happiness, and optimism) and time perspective on the outcome variables quality of life and benefit finding with demographic/medical variables (gender, number of treatments received for cancer, and previous psychotherapy) as independent variables. Results indicated that positive emotions fully mediated the relationship between the number of treatments received for cancer and quality of life and partially mediated the relationship between having engaged in psychotherapy and quality of life with adolescent cancer survivors. Importantly, results indicated that patients' with a relapse diagnosis scored significantly different than those with no relapse diagnosis on quality of life. Although positive emotions were significantly associated with scores on benefit finding in a positive direction, benefit finding did not fit two of the four criteria for mediation. Time perspective indices did not meet full criteria for significant mediation with the relationships between independent and outcome variables. Regarding time perspective indices, significant associations included: prior participating in psychotherapy was associated with higher scores on a Past-Negative time perspective, the more treatments received for cancer was associated with higher scores on a Present-Focused time perspective, and higher scores on the Past-Negative time perspective was associated with lower scores on benefit finding. Discussion centers on the use of evidence-based interventions that cultivate positive emotions with adolescent cancer survivors and the utility of implementing quality of life assessment in pediatric medical settings. Continued emphasis is placed on larger sample sizes via multi-center cooperation that may better illustrate adjustment difficulties within subgroups of this population (i.e. relapse diagnosis). Future research considerations are provided for the constructs of time perspective and benefit finding.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons

Share

COinS