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The Role of Social Comparisons in Coping and Quality of Life Following a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

18 Years
70 Years
Not Enrolling
Prostate Cancer

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Trial Information

The Role of Social Comparisons in Coping and Quality of Life Following a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Social comparisons may function as a coping strategy, but their role in coping and quality
of life has not been well characterized. The purpose of the current study is to investigate
the relationships between cognitive appraisals; coping strategies; social comparisons; and
quality of life among men with prostate cancer. The conceptual framework for this study is
drawn from Festinger's Social Comparison Theory, Lazarus and Folkman's Transactional Model
of Stress and Coping, and Mishel's Uncertainty in Illness Theory. A cancer diagnosis is
accompanied by uncertainty about how cancer will affect one's life. Theory and empirical
data suggest that in conditions of uncertainty, coping affects adjustment to a condition.
Social comparisons have been postulated to be more prevalent in uncertain situations.
Because little is known about how social comparisons operate, participants in this study
will be recruited exclusively from prostate cancer support groups. Support groups provide a
context in which individuals are likely to make social comparisons and to be cognizant of
these comparisons. Prostate cancer provides a model of a common, chronic condition with
complex etiology. Prostate cancer treatment may cause sexual, urinary, and bowel side
effects, which may affect patients' quality of life and elicit attempts to cope. One way of
managing the prostate cancer experience may be to compare oneself to others who are doing
better or worse than oneself on relevant dimensions. The interpretation of social
comparisons may positively or negatively affect one's perceived quality of life. There have
been no studies among prostate cancer patients that have quantitatively measured the use of
social comparisons. There is also a paucity of research in this population regarding the
predictors of coping strategies and the predictors of quality of life across multiple
domains. This study will use a cross-sectional, mixed methods survey to investigate
relationships between cognitive appraisals, coping, and quality of life and to qualitatively
explore social comparisons among men with prostate cancer. Participants may complete the
survey on paper or online. The primary outcomes are the use of coping strategies, including
social comparisons, and quality of life. Individuals with a personal or family history of
prostate cancer are currently seen by genetic counselors as part of research studies
investigating the genetic basis of prostate cancer. If relationships are demonstrated
between the social comparisons and quality of life, genetic counselors may want to assess
patients' social comparisons to evaluate how patients are coping with their condition.

Inclusion Criteria


- Under 70 years old (the mean age of diagnosis for prostate cancer)

- Diagnosed between ages 18 and 70 with localized prostate cancer of stage T1b, T1c, or


- History of another primary cancer other than a skin cancer that was not melanoma

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Time Perspective: Retrospective

Outcome Measure:

Perceived Quality of Life

Principal Investigator

Barbara B Biesecker

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)


United States: Federal Government

Study ID:




Start Date:

July 2010

Completion Date:

Related Keywords:

  • Prostate Cancer
  • Coping
  • Quality of Life
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Prostatic Neoplasms



National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland  20892