Saturday, July 14, 2007
This presentation is part of : Care of the Chronically Ill
Coping with cancer and emotional distress
Aida Cruz Mendes, PhD, RN1, C. Reboredo, RN2, C. Silva, RN2, and M. L. Carvalho, RN2. (1) Health Sciences Research Unit: Nursing Domain, Coimbra Nursing School, Coimbra, Portugal, (2) Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra, Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
Learning Objective #1: recognise anxiety and depression as responses to cancer.
Learning Objective #2: identify coping as an important moderator of the impact of the perceived stress.

This study aims at analysing the relationship between coping with cancer and the emotional responses of anxiety and depression. Depression and anxiety, often under assessed, (Mendes et al, 2003; Madden, 2006), are manifestations of human suffering in situations of serious illness and, according to the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping, (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984) coping styles influence the way we react to some problematic life situations.
Method: Correlational – descriptive study. An accidental, convenience sample was selected, constituted by 73 patients under treatment to the haematological oncologic illness. Anxiety was assessed by STAI-S (Spielberger, 1970), depression by IACLIDE (Vaz-Serra, 1994) and coping with cancer by CBI-L (Merluzzi and Sanches, 1997).
Results: Mean age was 44,74 years, 60,3% men and 39,7% women, 56,2% were hospitalised and 43,8% were in ambulatory treatment. 57,5% of the patients show depressive symptomatology, 24,7% mild depression, 16,4% moderate depression and 16,4% severe depression. Negative correlations, statistically very significant, were found between coping style and depression (r = -0,822; p = 0,000) and between coping style and anxiety (r = -0,748; p = 0,002). No differences in anxiety and depression were found between the two treatment contexts: hospitalization and ambulatory.
Conclusion: The systematic assessment of the emotional state is an essential requisite for an accurate assessment of the need for care.  The way that the person copes with the disease is strongly correlated with the responses to anxiety and depression. In this study, the treatment contexts were not differentiators neither of the magnitude of the emotional responses nor of the style of coping used. The awareness of how a person relates to the world and tends to cope with potentially problematic situations may be an important contribution for us to understand the other and it’s essential for the development of an effective help relationship.