Multi-system stress model: Theoretical basis for cancer stress management

Winston Lewis (1988)

Recent developments in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer have resulted in an extended survival for many cancer patients. The psychophysiologic demands of living with cancer and its treatment often become major life stressors for cancer patients. Stress has been associated with cancer as a possible precipitating factor throughout medical history. More recently, data suggesting psychosomatic origins of cancer and research results on the relationship between stress, suppressed immunity and cancer have sent confusing messages to psychologists interested in the theory and practice of psycho-oncology. This dissertation offers a transactional, biopsychosocial model of stress as an organizing construct for reviewing and evaluating research on the influence of psychological factors on neoplastic disease. This multi-dimensional stress and coping model also provides the theoretical basis for an adjunctive treatment program of cognitive-behavioral interventions for cancer patients to be provided within a medical setting. The theoretical Multi-System Stress Model and the Cancer Stress Management Program proposed in this dissertation were influenced by the theoretical writings of Engle (1977), Lazarus (1966), and Meichenbaum (1977).