Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 749–756 | Cite as

Posttraumatic growth after cancer: the importance of health-related benefits and newfound compassion for others

  • Bronwyn A. Morris
  • Jane Shakespeare-Finch
  • Jennifer L. Scott
Original Article



There is growing evidence in psycho-oncology that people can experience posttraumatic growth (PTG), or positive life change, in addition to the distress that may occur after a cancer diagnosis. Many studies utilise existing PTG measures that were designed for general trauma experiences, such as the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. However, such inventories may not take into account life changes associated with a crisis specifically in a health-related context.


The current study presents a mixed method exploration of the post-diagnosis experience of cancer survivors (N = 209) approximately 3 years after diagnosis.


Quantitative and qualitative assessment of PTG showed that appreciating life was the most salient area of positive life change for cancer survivors. The results also revealed that in addition to several PTG domains captured by existing quantitative PTG measures, further positive life changes were reported, including compassion for others and health-related life changes.


These domains of PTG highlight the unique context of a cancer diagnosis and the potential underestimation of positive life change by existing inventories. Further research is warranted that is directed towards designing a context-specific PTG measure for cancer survivors.


Posttraumatic growth Cancer Oncology Qualitative Mixed method 



The authors are appreciative to the WP Holman Clinic at the Launceston General Hospital, Tasmania for their assistance in this project. We especially thank Dr Kim Rooney and Ms Loris Towers. We also express gratitude to the participants for their overwhelming and supportive response.

Conflicts of interest

There is no conflict of interest between the authors and any funding bodies that would have a direct bearing on this article. The corresponding author has full control of all data relating to this article and would allow the journal to review this data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bronwyn A. Morris
    • 1
  • Jane Shakespeare-Finch
    • 2
  • Jennifer L. Scott
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of TasmaniaSandy BayAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychology and Counselling, Institute of Health and Biomedical InnovationQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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