Coping Strategies Used by Breast, Prostate, and Colorectal Cancer Survivors: A Literature Review

Mari P. Lashbrook, Patricia C. Valery, Vikki Knott, Marilynne N. Kirshbaum, Christina M. Bernardes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Individual coping strategies are a fundamental element underpinning psychosocial distress.

Objective: The aim of this study was to describe coping strategies and their measurement used by survivors of breast, prostate, and/or colorectal cancer after treatment.

Methods: A search of electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO) was conducted from January 1980 to March 2015. Data were extracted using standardized forms and included studies that explored the coping mechanisms of survivorship of breast, prostate, or colorectal cancer.

Results: Two thousand one hundred forty-seven studies were retrieved for potential inclusion; 19 publications met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review.

Conclusions: Breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors seem to use different coping strategies that varied throughout the survivorship trajectory. Breast cancer survivors highlighted the importance of accepting their diagnosis and engaging in physical activities that provided social and emotional support. Personality seemed to have a significant effect on coping for prostate cancer survivors. Colorectal cancer survivors emphasized the importance of seeking information to master self-management and return to social activities.

Implications for Practice: Understanding coping strategies, during the survivorship trajectories, is essential to planning contemporary care after cancer treatment. Nurses and other healthcare professionals may use this knowledge to improve quality of life and decrease distress after diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E23–E39
Number of pages17
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number5
Early online date14 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


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