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How to deal: Exploring the impact of coping, perceived control, and stress on immune function in patients with advanced cancer

Ola, Olutoyin (2019) How to deal: Exploring the impact of coping, perceived control, and stress on immune function in patients with advanced cancer. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Purpose: This study sought to uncover targets for psychosocial intervention with advanced cancer patients by elucidating the three-way interactions among coping, perceived control, and perceived stress and their impact on immune function. Background: In recent decades, stress-related immune dysfunction—namely, chronic inflammation—has been cited as the underlying mechanism through which a variety of chronic diseases of public health significance, including type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dementias, develop. There is also evidence to suggest that stress only results in serious pathology when it is long-standing and unresolved. Thus, there is an opportunity to intervene such that stress does not result in chronic disease. Coping, according to Lazarus and Folkman, is the psychological construct encompassing the numerous ways with which one can deal with situations appraised as stressful. It is important to note that there are innumerable personal factors—such as one’s perceived level of control—that can influence how one appraises a situation and copes when a situation is deemed stressful. Methods: The present study, a secondary analysis, explored which coping strategies advanced cancer patients use to handle their diagnoses and how those coping strategies impact immune function. Peripheral blood levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, the regulatory cytokine IL-2, and the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1alpha and beta were used to operationalize immune function as cytokines mediate the immune system’s inflammatory response. Patients’ self-reported coping strategies were grouped into coping profiles using PCA and cluster analysis, then linear regression models were constructed for each cytokine to assess for three-way interactions among coping, perceived control, and stress. Findings: Global F tests and likelihood ratio tests run on each regression model did not yield a significant p-value; however, there were several individual three-way interactions that were statistically significant. The results suggest that there is a need to investigate the person and environment variables that moderate the relationship between coping and stress and their impact on the immune system further.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ola, Olutoyinolo9@pitt.eduolo9
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHawk,
Committee MemberSteel,
Committee MemberAlbert,
Date: 20 June 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 July 2018
Approval Date: 20 June 2019
Submission Date: 9 January 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 80
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: stress; coping; perceived control; personal control; immune function; liver cancer; HCC; cytokine; proinflammatory; anti-inflammatory; IL-10; IL-2; IL-1alpha; IL-1beta; three-way interaction; moderated moderation
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2019 14:47
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2019 14:47

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  • How to deal: Exploring the impact of coping, perceived control, and stress on immune function in patients with advanced cancer. (deposited 20 Jun 2019 14:47) [Currently Displayed]


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