Chapter Themes and Self-Defining Memories in Children and Adolescent Survivors of Cancer: A Mixed-Methods Exploratory Analysis

Dean Gomes, Fordham University


This mixed-methods, qualitative and quantitative, exploratory analysis examined chapter themes generated from chapter summaries, a construct never previously examined, and self-defining memories in childhood and adolescent survivors of cancer. Relationships between chapter themes, self-defining memories, and demographic characteristics were explored. A total of 97 survivors identified as being in remission for at least one year were recruited and evaluated through the SAMFund, a nonprofit organization that provides financial, emotional, and educational support to young-adult cancer survivors throughout the United States. Participants completed a life-story interview that was transcribed and coded for the presence and absence of salient themes related to adjustment and adaptation to their experience with cancer. Participants completed Domain-Specific Appraisal Scales (DSAS) to assess the personal meaning of the five specific cancer episodes (high point, low point, turning point, vivid memory, religious spiritual or mystical experience). Chapter themes indicating the presence of medical procedures displayed the greatest frequencies. Intercorrelations between adaptive chapter themes found positive emotion and positive meaning to be most salient. No gender differences were found, and survivors aged 18-24 were more likely to indicate adaptive chapter themes than survivors aged 25-31. Survivors displaying positive emotion in chapters reported greater positive meaning in DSAS scores and survivors displaying negative emotion in chapters reported greater negative meaning in DSAS scores. Turning point positive meaning score was most related of all the predictor variables to chapter theme positive emotion. These results provide support for the examination of chapters in qualitative research concerning chronic illness, as data generated in this study was distinct from previous research examining illness narratives. However, further research employing longitudinal designs needs to be conducted to determine the stability of the findings presented in this study.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Gomes, Dean, "Chapter Themes and Self-Defining Memories in Children and Adolescent Survivors of Cancer: A Mixed-Methods Exploratory Analysis" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10620213.