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Publication Date

2009-05-20

Availability

UM campus only

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2008-07-11

First Committee Member

Frank J. Penedo - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Michael H. Antoni - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Suzanne C. Lechner - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Biing-Juin Shen - Committee Member

Fifth Committee Member

Bruce R. Kava - Outside Committee Member

Abstract

Research on aging indicates that older adults do not, as a group, report decreased health-related quality of life (HRQOL) despite age-related declines in physical health status. Several cognitive adaptation strategies have been suggested to underlie HRQOL stability in this population. Studies of older cancer patients nevertheless show substantial variance in post-treatment HRQOL outcomes, although cognitive mechanisms for individual differences have received little attention. The current study expanded on a developmental adaptation of self-regulation theory in which aging influences both self-vulnerability and perceptions of disease. A model was tested in which older age was hypothesized to predict better HRQOL via less severe illness perceptions in men treated for localized (Stage I and II) PC. Results indicated that age was not directly associated with HRQOL. However, older age was indirectly associated with better HRQOL via less severe PC perceptions. Further, this indirection association helped account for the positive association between age and HRQOL that three risk factors (income, comorbid disease burden, and sexual function) were shown to suppress. Perceptions of PC may promote HRQOL stability by mitigating age-related declines in health and income status. Disease perceptions thus represent critical components of health assessments and interventions for PC survivors of all ages, but particularly for men facing difficulties adapting to complex health profiles or normative lifespan challenges.

Keywords

Comorbidity; Sexual Dysfunction; Illness Perceptions; Aging; Prostate Carcinoma

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