Gender Differences in the Use of Engagement and Disengagement Coping Strategies in Patients With Cancer Receiving Chemotherapy

Kate R. Oppegaard

Laura B. Dunn

Kord M. Kober

Lynda A. Mackin

Marilyn J. Hammer

Yvette P. Conley

Jon D. Levine

Christine Miaskowski

gender, coping, chemotherapy, cancer, engagement strategies, disengagement strategies
ONF 2020, 47(5), 586-594. DOI: 10.1188/20.ONF.586-594

Objectives: To evaluate the relationship between gender and coping strategies in patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy in outpatient settings.

Sample & Setting: Women (N = 277) and men (N = 293) were recruited from two comprehensive cancer centers, one Veterans Affairs hospital, and four community-based oncology programs.

Methods & Variables: Coping data were obtained from patients with gastrointestinal (n = 412) or lung (n = 158) cancer through the Brief COPE scale.

Results: In terms of engagement coping strategies, women reported higher scores for positive reframing, religion, and using instrumental support. Men reported higher scores for humor. In terms of disengagement coping strategies, women reported higher scores for denial, venting, and self-distraction. Men reported higher scores for substance use.

Implications for Nursing: Gender-based stereotypes of emotional expectations may affect how patients express themselves and the ways in which support is offered. Clinicians should be aware of their own preconceived notions about sex and gender and reflect on how these may influence the psychosocial care they provide.

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