Coping and its effects on cancer caregiving

Joseph E. Gaugler, Alejandra Eppinger, Jamie King, Tracey Sandberg, William F. Regine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: Various studies have documented the emotional distress family members of persons with cancer experience, and descriptive research has identified those psychosocial factors that protect cancer caregivers from a range of negative outcomes. The objective of this study was to determine how different coping strategies were associated with multiple domains of stress and negative health outcomes among cancer family caregivers. Methods: A cross-sectional, correlational study design was used. One hundred forty-eight family caregivers of persons with cancer from the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center and the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center were included. Results: Multiple regression models found that negative expectation coping strategies (worrying, expecting the worst, and getting nervous) and cancer caregivers' perceptions of not coping well were most significantly associated with emotional distress and negative psychological outcomes. Conclusion: Coping strategies, and in particular negative coping styles, have a consistent and exacerbating influence on various stressors and negative psychological outcomes for cancer caregivers. Given their pervasive effects across multiple stress process domains, the alleviation or redirection of negative expectation coping strategies may enhance the delivery of clinical interventions to result in stronger, long-lasting benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-395
Number of pages11
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This project was funded by the Masonic Cancer Center of the University of Minnesota and the Stulman Foundation. The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Kathryn Dusenbery of the Department of Therapeutic Oncology at the University of Minnesota and Dr. Charles W. Given of the Michigan State University for their assistance. The first author would also like to thank Kris Talley, Ph.D., Anne Boldt, Bonnie Bata-Jones (dearly departed), Andrea Dierich, Melissa Webster, Katie Wocken, Sharon Zurbey, M.N., Lindsay Sptizer, M.N, Mary Boldischar, M.S.W., Jeanette Linder, M.D., Galina Tucker, M.D., and Ritesh Kateria, M.D. for their data collection, conceptualization, and data management efforts.


  • Family caregiving
  • Informal long-term care
  • Resources
  • Stress


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