Perceived stigma, self-blame, and adjustment among lung, breast and prostate cancer patients.

Nicole M. Else-Quest, Noelle K. LoConte, Joan H. Schiller, Janet Shibley Hyde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


People who suffer from disease have often been stigmatised. The internalisation of stigma leads to the experience of self-blame. The relationship among stigma, self-blame and adjustment was framed with two theoretical perspectives: the looking-glass self and learned helplessness models. These models were studied in 96 lung, 30 breast and 46 prostate cancer patients. Consistent with the looking-glass-self model, we predicted that perceived stigma and self-blame would be associated with poorer psychological adjustment; the data supported these hypotheses. Consistent with the learned helplessness model, we predicted that self-blame would mediate the link between perceived stigma and psychological adjustment; data supported these hypotheses. The mediation model explained a greater percentage of the variance in adjustment in the lung cancer sample compared to the breast and prostate cancer sample. Participants who reported internal causal attributions reported poorer psychological adjustment. Lung cancer patients were more likely than breast or prostate cancer patients to report internal causal attributions for their cancer. Future research and cancer care are discussed in light of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-964
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology & health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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