Hide and sick: Self-concealment, shame and distress in the setting of psycho-oncology

Reut Wertheim, Ilanit Hasson-Ohayon, Michal Mashiach-Eizenberg, Noam Pizem, Einat Shacham-Shmueli, Gil Goldzweig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Both trait and contextual self-concealment, as well as shame- and guilt-proneness, have previously been found to be associated with psychological distress. However, findings regarding the associations between these variables among patients with cancer and among the spouses of patients with cancer are limited. The aim of the current study was therefore to investigate the relationship between shame-proneness and psychological distress (anxiety and depression) by examining the mediating role of both trait and contextual self-concealment among patients with cancer and among the spouses of patients with cancer.Method: The current study was part of a large-scale cross-sectional study on self-concealment among patients with cancer and spouses of patients with cancer. It was based on two independent subsamples: patients with cancer and spouses of patients with cancer, who were not dyads. A total of 80 patients with cancer and 80 spouses of (other) patients with cancer completed questionnaires assessing shame- and guilt-proneness, trait and contextual self-concealment, anxiety, and depression.Results: Results indicate that spouses reported both greater shame-proneness and anxiety than did patients (main effect of role). Female participants reported greater shame-proneness, higher levels of contextual self-concealment, and greater depression and anxiety than did male participants (main effect of gender). No group differences (role/gender) were found for guilt-proneness and trait self-concealment. Trait and contextual self-concealment partially mediated the relationship between shame-proneness and distress, pointing out the need to further examine additional mediators.Significance of results: Findings suggest that contextual self-concealment and shame-proneness are important variables to consider when assessing distress in the setting of psycho-oncology. Study results may have significant clinical implications regarding the need to identify patients and spouses who are more prone to shame and self-concealment behavior in order to better tailor interventions for them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-469
Number of pages9
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017.

Keywords

  • Cancer
  • Distress
  • Guilt-proneness
  • Self-concealment
  • Shame-proneness

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