Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Cynthia McRae, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ruth Chao

Third Advisor

Carly Parry

Fourth Advisor

Roger E. Salters


Cancer, Cognitive processing, Perceived threat, Posttraumatic growth, PTG


This study explored several predictors of posttraumatic growth (PTG) in a sample of 169 breast, prostate and colorectal cancer survivors. The first aim was to determine the influence of Anxiety, Depression and Perceived Threat (defined as the combination of Life Outlook Threat, i.e., the degree a cancer diagnosis challenged a survivor's assumptive world, and Physical Threat, i.e., threat to mortality and physical well-being) in the prediction of Positive and Negative Cognitive Processing. The second aim was to examine the effect of Anxiety, Depression, Perceived Threat, and Positive and Negative Cognitive Processing in the predication of PTG.

Cancer survivors who were treated at one of the Denver Division clinics of the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center participated in the study. Since little empirical research has been conducted utilizing the variable of cognitive processing in the psychological literature, the study sought to investigate how Anxiety, Depression, and Perceived Threat were related to Positive and Negative Cognitive Processing. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to explore four primary hypotheses.

The results of the study revealed several important findings. Physical Threat, Depression, and Permanent After-Effects of Cancer Treatment significantly predicted Positive Cognitive Processing, with lower levels of Physical Threat and Depression and no After-Effects of Treatment predicting higher Positive Cognitive Processing. Life Outlook Threat, Positive Cognitive Processing, and Type of Cancer Treatment Received also significantly predicted PTG. The findings indicated that greater life outlook threat and positive cognitive processing as well as receiving more than one form of cancer treatment predicted greater growth. None of the variables reached significance in predicting Negative Cognitive Processing and Negative Cognitive Processing failed to significantly predict PTG.

While perceived threat and cognitive processing have a strong theoretical basis in the emergence of growth, the constructs have received little empirical attention. This is the first study that has assessed how being diagnosed with cancer challenges, rather than alters, a survivor's assumptive world. The results of the study provide evidence that increases in life outlook threat and positive cognitive processing are related to PTG.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Jennifer M. Caspari


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

216 p.


Counseling psychology