Assessing positive growth from the experience of chronic illness: A measurement model of benefit finding in breast cancer, prostate cancer, and HIV/AIDS

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Maria M. Llabre - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Michael H. Antoni - Committee Member


Despite the physical and emotional challenges of medical illness, many individuals also report positive life changes stemming from the experience, which has been termed benefit finding. Researchers recognize different areas of growth following a stressful or traumatic event (e.g., spiritual, interpersonal, personal concept, and existential); however quantitative studies typically treat benefit finding as a unidimensional construct. This study examined two potential factor structures of the Benefit Finding Scale using confirmatory factor analysis: a single factor model with all items loading on a common factor and a multiple factor model, paralleling dimensions previously identified in the literature. Models were tested in four samples of medical patients: prostate cancer (n = 185), breast cancer (n = 110), HIV+ men who have sex with men (MSM) (n = 128) and HIV+ women (n = 117). The single factor model was a poor fit for the data in all four samples. Six factors (Acceptance, Family Relations, Personal Growth, World View, Social Support, and Health Behaviors) derived through content analyses comprised the multiple factor model. In both the breast and prostate cancer groups, the six factor solution showed relatively good fit with factor loading invariance across the cancer samples. Only four of the factors could be tested in HIV/AIDS due to a reduced number of items administered in these samples. The four factor model was a relatively good fit for the data in both MSM and women and again the factor loadings were invariant across the samples. Sociodemographic and disease-related predictors were differentially related to BF factors across studies. These results suggest an alternate framework for the assessment of benefit finding using a multidimensional approach that may generalize across populations.


Psychology, Clinical

Link to Full Text


Link to Full Text