Benefit finding in cancer: A review of influencing factors and health outcomes Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: Emerging research is revealing that the use of positively-oriented coping efforts may be beneficial to people living with and beyond cancer treatments. Benefit finding is such a positively-oriented coping strategy suggested to influence psychological and physical health outcomes, but the empirical evidence for these suggestions is unclear. This study aimed to review the existing evidence on factors that influence the use of benefit finding, and the associated health outcomes in cancer. METHODS: Searches were undertaken in established databases. Studies were reviewed if published between January 1980 and June 2012. The search terms 'benefit finding', 'coping', 'positive emotions', and 'neoplasms' were used in various combinations. Ten studies were included in the Review. RESULTS: Optimism was the only influencing factor that was consistently supported by evidence in the literature (n = 5/10). For health outcomes, physiological stress-response biomarkers of enhanced immune function were associated with benefit finding (n = 2/10). Inconsistent evidence were found between benefit finding and social support, and between benefit finding and psychological outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: There is inconclusive evidence to date to conclude that certain factors influence the use of benefit finding in cancer populations, or that benefit finding is clearly associated with any particular health outcomes. There is beginning evidence to conclude that optimism is related to benefit finding, and that benefit finding is associated with reduced physiological stress-response biomarkers. Further research is needed to explore predictors, co-variates, associations and clinical outcomes of benefit finding in cancer populations.

publication date

  • December 2013