Approach and avoidance coping: diurnal cortisol rhythm in prostate cancer survivors.

PMID 25108161


Psychological coping responses likely modulate the negative physiological consequences of cancer-related demands. This longitudinal, observational study examined how approach- and avoidance-oriented strategies for coping with cancer are associated with diurnal cortisol rhythm in prostate cancer (PC) survivors. Sixty-six men (M age=65.76; SD=9.04) who had undergone radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy for localized PC within the prior two years reported their use of approach and avoidance coping via questionnaire at study entry (T1). Participants provided saliva samples (3 times per day over 3 days) for diurnal cortisol assessment at T1 and again 4 months later (T2). When controlling for relevant biobehavioral covariates, cancer-related avoidance-oriented coping was associated with flatter cortisol slopes at T1 (B=.34, p=.03) and at T2 (B=.30, p=.02). Approach-oriented coping was not associated with cortisol slopes. Post-hoc analyses revealed a significant interaction between avoidant coping and time since completion of cancer treatment on T2 cortisol slope (B=-.05, p=.04). Men who used relatively more avoidance-oriented coping who were further in time from treatment demonstrated a flatter cortisol slope. High avoidance-oriented coping is associated with dysregulation of cortisol responses, which may be an important target for reducing stress during PC survivorship.