Appraisal of Life Threatening Illness Experience and Psychological Well-Being in Old Age
Cancer is a life threatening chronic illness which affects the quality of life for many people. The prevalence rates for the most common forms of cancer increase especially after the age of 65. This presentation will explore the dynamics of appraisals and psychological well being when coping with illness stressors and offer a transactional analysis of the empirical associations between illness stressors, personal and social resources and psychological well being outcomes. The conceptual orientation of psycho-oncological research has often emphasized depression as a mental health outcome when people are diagnosed with cancer in old age. This paper proposes that personal and social resources of people may offer alternative perceptions and contribute to positive appraisal of coping with cancer. Data for the paper was obtained from 350 cancer people who were participants in cancer support groups on the Internet. Analyses indicated that even though majority of cancer patients appraised that coping with a life threatening illness is a traumatic life experience, they also reported positive appraisal outcomes. The conclusions of the paper include that traumatic stressors can coexist with resilience and psycho-social transcendence.
Keywords: Cancer, Coping, Old Age, Appraisal, Resilience, Psycho-social Transcendence
Dr. Gül Seçkin
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland