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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2008 Oct;76(5):863-75. doi: 10.1037/a0013348.

Meaning making and psychological adjustment following cancer: the mediating roles of growth, life meaning, and restored just-world beliefs.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.


Cancer survivors' efforts at meaning making may influence the extent to which they successfully make meaning from their experience (i.e., experience posttraumatic growth, find life meaningful, and restore beliefs in a just world), which may, in turn, influence their psychological adjustment. Previous research regarding both meaning making processes and meanings made as determinants of adjustment has shown inconsistent effects, partly because of the lack of clearly articulated theoretical frameworks and problematic research strategies. In a 1-year longitudinal study, the authors distinguished the meaning making process from the outcomes of that process (meanings made), employing specific measures of both. The authors tested pathways through which meaning making efforts led to 3 different meanings made (growth, life meaning, and restored just-world belief) in a sample of 172 young to middle-age adult cancer survivors, and they explored whether those meanings made mediated the effect of meaning making efforts on psychological adjustment. Cross-sectional and longitudinal path models of the meaning making process indicate that meaning making efforts are related to better adjustment through the successful creation of adaptive meanings made from the cancer experience. The authors conclude with clinical implications and suggestions for future research.

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