Graduation Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



Degree Granting Department

Department of Psychology

Major Professor

Paul B. Jacobsen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bill N. Kinder, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Louis A. Penner, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William P. Sacco, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael A. Weitzner, M.D.


Prior research suggests that the diagnosis and treatment of cancer can result in the experience of positive outcomes, or positive growth. Based on Schaefer and Moos' (1992) model of adaptation of life crises, the current study examined the predictive utility of personality traits, coping, and social support in accounting for variability in posttraumatic growth and whether trauma appraisals, social constraint, and mental health were associated with the degree of posttraumatic growth in cancer patients who had undergone bone marrow transplantation. Participants were 53 females and 19 males treated with BMT an average of 24 months previously. Qualitative reports of posttraumatic growth were assessed through a structured clinical interview. Quantitative reports of posttraumatic growth and other psychosocial variables were assessed using standardized self-report measures. Results indicated that 97% of BMT recipients reported at least one positive outcome associated with their cancer and its treatment, with participants reporting an average of four positive changes. Univariate analyses confirmed predictions that increased posttraumatic growth would be associated with more negative appraisals of the hospitalization for BMT and greater use of approach-based coping strategies. Exploratory univariate analyses also indicated that increased posttraumatic growth was also associated with increased spirituality, decreased depression, a more negatively biased recollection of pre-transplant psychological distress, younger age, and less education(p's ≤ .05). Regression analyses indicated that appraisal of emotional distress during transplant and pre-BMT avoidant coping accounted for significant (p ≤ .05) variability in posttraumatic growth scores above and beyond relevant demographic and medical variables. Results of the current study provide preliminary evidence of the occurrence of posttraumatic growth among patients treated for cancer and the relationship between psychosocial variables and post-traumatic growth. These findings highlight the need for further studies in this area and possible interventions aimed at facilitating post-traumatic growth.

Included in

Psychology Commons