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Posttraumatic growth and demoralization after cancer: The effects of patients' meaning-making

  • Yu-Chan Li (a1), Pei-Chen Yeh (a1) (a2), Hong-Wen Chen (a3), Yi-Fang Chang (a4), Shih-Hsuan Pi (a5) and Chun-Kai Fang (a1) (a6) (a7)...

It is common for patients to experience positive and negative psychological changes (e.g., posttraumatic growth or demoralization) after being diagnosed with cancer. Although demoralization and posttraumatic growth are both related to meaning-making, little attention has been paid to the associations among these concepts. The current study investigated the relationship between demoralization, posttraumatic growth, and meaning-making (focusing on sense-making and benefit-finding during the experience of illness) in cancer patients.


Some 200 cancer patients (with lung cancer, lymphoma, or leukemia) at the MacKay Memorial Hospital in New Taipei completed the Demoralization Scale–Mandarin Version (DS–MV), the Chinese Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (CPTGI), and a self-designed questionnaire for assessing sense-making and benefit-finding.


Demoralization was negatively correlated with posttraumatic growth, sense-making, benefit-finding, and time-since-diagnosis. Multiple regression analysis showed that meaning-making had different effects on demoralization and posttraumatic growth. The interactions of sense-making with either benefit-finding or time-since-diagnosis significantly predicted demoralization. Individuals with relatively higher sense-making and benefit-finding or shorter time-since-diagnosis experienced less demoralization.

Significance of Results:

The suffering of cancer may turn on the psychological process of demoralization, posttraumatic growth, and meaning-making in patients. Cancer patients who evidenced higher posttraumatic growth experienced less demoralization. Trying to identify positive changes in the experience of cancer may be a powerful way to increase posttraumatic growth. As time goes by, patients experienced less demoralization. Facilitating sense-making can have similar effects. Cancer patients with less benefit-finding experience higher demoralization, but sense-making buffers this effect.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Chun-Kai Fang, 45 Mingsheng Road, MacKay Memorial Hospital Tamshui Branch, New Taipei, Taiwan. E-Mail:
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