Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. One key question remains unanswered. How do diagnosed patients experience living with mesothelioma?
A new study in Health Psychology aimed to explore the mesothelioma patient experience.
Data from 22 different research studies were analyzed. The coping strategies highlighted here provide hope for mesothelioma patients and caregivers. The results bring awareness of the patient experience, coping processes, and support pathways.
Two Coping Strategies to Support a Mesothelioma Patient
The best coping strategies help patients reclaim a sense of mental calm, individual autonomy, and meaning. These strategies can also reduce the trauma of living with mesothelioma.
Patients who accepted the diagnosis fully were more optimistic than those in denial. Patients who accepted the diagnosis were able to reorient their perspectives. They were able to retrain their thinking away from negative thoughts. These patients were also able to find good in the opportunities still ahead of them. This approach gave them something to aspire to during the hardship of disease.
Others framed mesothelioma and their cancer journeys as a war. They positioned mesothelioma as an enemy that can be defeated using stoic resolve and effort. These patients reframed the diagnosis as a challenge to overcome.
Both of these strategies appeared to help patients reclaim a sense of control. These approaches helped them to adopt a more active role in their clinical journeys. This helped ease feelings of anxiety while living with mesothelioma.
External Sources of Support for Mesothelioma Patients
Many mesothelioma patients also relied heavily on external support. Family-based support can enhance a patient’s emotional coping. Often a family can help to ease the build-up of negative emotions.
Another kind of support comes from fellow mesothelioma patients. This peer support can help because it lets mesothelioma share their experiences, hoped and fears. Patients can also be honest in sharing the practical challenges of the disease.
Information-based support from reliable on-line sources such as SurvivingMesothelioma.com were also valued. These resources avoided complex medical terms and provided meaningful news and information on mesothelioma, . Resources such as these were highly valued by patients and allowed for greater patient empowerment.
How to Practice Coping Strategies for Mesothelioma Patients
Clinicians, patients, and caregivers can integrate these strategies to help mesothelioma patients. They can increase a patient’s acceptance, hope, and empowerment.
One coping method is to accept the mesothelioma diagnosis and all that it entails. Thereby promoting a positive outlook on life. Another coping method is to position mesothelioma as an enemy that can be defeated.
External sources of support for mesothelioma patients are equally important. Family and peer-based support provide structure and community for the patient.
Wherever possible, patient support should seek to empower patient autonomy and encourage positivity. These strategies can help a patient living with mesothelioma. They can help patients reclaim a sense of purpose. The key is to tailor support where possible to better meet a patient’s needs and preferences.
Lond, Benjamin, Kerry Quincey, Lindsay Apps, Liz Darlison, and Iain Williamson. “The experience of living with mesothelioma: A meta-ethnographic review and synthesis of the qualitative literature.” Health Psychology (2022). https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/hea0001166