Date Approved

9-24-2020

Embargo Period

9-25-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. Clinical Psychology

Department

Psychology

College

College of Science & Mathematics

First Advisor

Arigo, Danielle

Second Advisor

Fife, Dustin

Third Advisor

Young, Chelsie

Keywords

Cancer, Health Behavior, Older Adults, Personal Mastery, Social Support

Subject(s)

Health behavior--Age factors; Cancer--Patients

Disciplines

Clinical Psychology

Abstract

Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The majority of individuals struggle to adhere to recommended dietary and physical activity guidelines. Specifically, older adults with cancer struggle to meet health behavior recommendations, and tend to have additional risk factors, such as poor social support. Following the Transactional Theory of Stress and Coping, an individual's response to a stressful situation (cancer diagnosis) would be influenced by the interaction between their internal resources (personal mastery) and external resources (social support). Using archival data from the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging, 725 older adults were surveyed to examine the moderating effects of personal mastery on the relations between social support and (1) Mediterranean diet and (2) physical activity. Differences in gender and time since cancer diagnosis were also explored.

Personal mastery did not moderate relations between social support and Mediterranean diet adherence nor total physical activity minutes. However, personal mastery moderated this relation with total walking minutes. No significant differences were found across gender and time since diagnosis. Preliminary findings suggest that a cancer patient's perception of greater control over their situation facilitate greater effectiveness of social support and its association with walking activity. Therefore, a Mastery Enhancement Therapy intervention might be useful for older adults with cancer.

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