Goal Navigation, Approach-Oriented Coping, and Adjustment in Young Men with Testicular Cancer

BACKGROUND - Cancer can challenge important life goals for young adult survivors. Poor goal navigation skills might disrupt self-regulation and interfere with coping efforts, particularly approach-oriented attempts.

Two studies are presented that investigated relationships among goal navigation processes, approach-oriented coping, and adjustment (i.e., social, emotional, and functional well-being) in separate samples of young adults with testicular cancer.

METHODS - In study 1, in-depth interviews (N = 21) were analyzed using thematic analysis to understand experiences of goal pursuit following cancer. In study 2, 171 men completed measures of goal navigation, coping, and adjustment to cancer.

RESULTS - In study 1, three prominent themes emerged: goal clarification, goal engagement and disengagement, and responses to disrupted goals. Regression analyses in study 2 revealed that goal navigation skills were positively associated with emotional (B = .35, p < .001), social (B = .24, p < .01), and functional (B = .28, p < .001) well-being, as was approach-oriented coping (B = .22, p < .01; B = .32, p < .001; B = .26, p < .001, respectively). Goal navigation moderated associations between approach-oriented coping and well-being, such that those with low goal navigation ability and low approach-oriented coping reported lower well-being.

CONCLUSIONS - Goal navigation skills and approach-oriented coping have unique and interactive relationships with adjustment to testicular cancer. They likely represent important independent targets for intervention, and goal navigation skills might also buffer the negative consequences of low use of approach-oriented coping.

Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. 2016 Mar 02 [Epub ahead of print]

Michael A Hoyt, Kristi E Gamarel, Christopher S Saigal, Annette L Stanton

Department of Psychology, Hunter College, City University of New York, 695 Park Avenue, Room HN-611, New York, NY, 10065, USA. Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA., Department of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA., Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.