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01-04-2016 | Uitgave 4/2016 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 4/2016

Long-term effects of goal disturbance and adjustment on well-being in cancer patients

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 4/2016
Moniek Janse, Mirjam A. G. Sprangers, Adelita V. Ranchor, Joke Fleer



To investigate the impact of personal goal disturbance after cancer diagnosis on well-being over time, and a possible moderating role of goal adjustment tendencies and actual goal adjustment strategies.


Participants (n = 186) were interviewed three times: within a month, 7 months (treatment period), and 18 months (follow-up period) after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Participants were asked to freely mention three to ten personal goals. Goal disturbance was assessed by the patients’ ratings of the amount of hindrance experienced in goal achievement. Goal adjustment tendencies were assessed using the Goal Disengagement and Re-engagement Scale and actual goal adjustment (i.e. goal flexibility) by the number of goal adjustment strategies used. Outcome measures were overall quality of life and emotional functioning, assessed with the cancer-specific EORTC QLQ-C30.


Hierarchical regression analyses showed that goal disturbance predicted well-being over both the treatment and the follow-up period. Additionally, the negative effect of goal disturbance on well-being was less for patients who scored higher on goal disengagement and not significant for patients who were more flexible in their use of actual goal adjustment strategies.


The present study is the first to test the theoretical assumption that goal adjustment is beneficial after goal disturbance. Whereas these findings need to be confirmed in future research, the possibly beneficial role of goal disengagement and actual goal adjustment strategies can be used for psychological interventions.

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