Coping in long-term survivors of childhood cancer: Relations to psychological distress

Kerstin Wenninger*, Almut Helmes, Jürgen Bengel, Melchior Lauten, Susanne Völkel, Charlotte M. Niemeyer

*Corresponding author for this work
38 Citations (Scopus)


Objective The goal of this study was to describe coping strategies and their associations with psychological distress in young adult survivors of childhood cancer. Methods One hundred and sixty-four childhood cancer survivors, at least 7 years after diagnosis, completed questionnaires assessing demographics, health information, psychological distress, and different ways of coping (return rate: 61%). The Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18) and the Post-traumatic Diagnostic Scale's (PDS) eight-item short form were used to measure psychological distress. Coping was assessed with the Cognitive Control Strategies Scale (CCSS), the Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised (IPQ-R), and the White Bear Suppression Inventory (WBSI). Results Higher levels of distress were associated with the female sex, not being in a relationship, and with the presence of medical late effects. These predictors explained 12% of the variance in psychological distress. When coping variables were also entered into the equation, the amount of explained variance increased to 50%. The most important determinants of psychological distress in our sample were a tendency to suppress negative thoughts and a low level of optimism. Conclusion These results contribute to a better understanding of the correlates of difficulties in long-term psychological adjustment after childhood cancer. Cognitive strategies, which are associated with or may increase the risk for concurrent psychological distress, in specific, avoidance of negative thoughts and a lack of positive future expectations, should be addressed in psychological counseling with survivors suffering from symptoms of distress.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)854-861
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 04.2013

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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