The relationship between coping style and psychological distress in people with head and neck cancer: A systematic review
Tickle, Anna C.
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OBJECTIVE: Individuals diagnosed with head and neck cancer (HNC) are at an elevated risk of experiencing psychological distress and a reduced quality of life. The aim of this review was to systematically examine and assess the quality of empirical evidence on the associations between coping mechanisms and psychological distress among people with HNC. METHODS: CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE and Web of Science were accessed to conduct this review. Studies were included if they used reliable and valid measures to investigate the relationship between coping style and psychological distress. Study quality was assessed and rated according to pre-set criteria, and showed variability in relation to selection methods. RESULTS: 12 studies (nine cross-sectional and three prospective designs) involving 1281 patients were reviewed. There was considerable heterogeneity in study samples and coping measures. Moderate to large associations between disengagement coping mechanisms (e.g. avoidance) and psychological distress were observed. Engagement coping strategies (e.g. direct action) were not consistently associated with psychological distress across studies. CONCLUSIONS: Several studies observed a significant relationship between coping styles aimed at disengaging and distancing from cancer and increased psychological distress. To understand directionality of these associations and further develop an understanding of temporal features of the relationship between coping styles and distress, longitudinal designs could be used in future research.