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Sch Inq Nurs Pract. 1997 Spring;11(1):21-37; discussion 39-43.

Bandura's theory of self-efficacy: applications to oncology.

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  • 1Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, College of Nursing, Newark 07102, USA.


Self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986) has been shown to impact on health practices as well as adaptation to illness and treatment. The purposes of this paper are to describe self-efficacy theory and review literature using self-efficacy theory to investigate prevention of cancer and adaptation to cancer. Measurement of self-efficacy is also discussed. Evidence from research examining applications of Bandura's theory of self-efficacy in oncology suggests relationships between self-efficacy and cancer prevention and self-efficacy and adaptation to cancer. Strong percepts of self-efficacy predict intention to quit smoking, increased participation in screening programs, and adjustment to cancer diagnosis. Increased self-efficacy is associated with increased adherence to treatment, increased self-care behaviors, and decreased physical and psychological symptoms. The advanced practice nurse is in an excellent position to give feedback that may help support patients' self-efficacy.

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