Meaning in adjustment to cancer: A model of care

Carrie Lethborg, Sanchia Aranda, David Kissane

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: In the clinical setting of cancer, meaning may well have a central role in the life changes the illness experience brings about. As health care professionals working with people with life-threatening illness, we are exposed to one of the major turning points in life and the ways people confront this transition. Meaning can assist coping by offering a framework, perspective, and counterbalance to the challenge of illness. However, the absence of meaning can be a precursor to profound despair. Methods: This article brings together the clinical implications of two studies conducted by the authors that explored the role of meaning in adjustment to cancer, presenting a theoretical understanding of the experience of meaning in cancer and identifying some potential approaches to intervention. Results: Our findings point to some specific goals of care as well as a number of therapeutic modalities aimed to meet these goals. We examine four goals of care-acknowledging suffering, encouraging a search for meaning, strengthening connection with others, and ensuring optimal physical care-as foundational in any clinical approach and then examine the key models of therapy that assist the clinician in pursuing these goals. Significance of results: Our aim is to create an integrated approach to care provision that locates meaning centrally in any patient's adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008


  • Adjustment to cancer
  • Meaning based coping
  • Psychosocial intervention
  • Strengthening connection with others
  • Suffering

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