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August 29, 1977

Adaptive Coping Mechanisms in Adult Acute Leukemia Patients in Remission

JAMA. 1977;238(9):952-954. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280100036019

The adult leukemia patient in a drug-induced remission possesses a unique set of emotional responses as he adjusts to an altered life-style and a life-threatening disease. Six patients, ranging in age from 24 to 62 years and being treated with monthly maintenance chemotherapy, were interviewed over a six-month period.

The adaptive coping mechanisms most frequently identified were denial of being sick, identification with fellow patients to form a "hospital family," and anticipatory grief of one's own losses by participation in grieving another patient's death. The means of adjustment was to adapt to the "hospital family" and benefit from the therapeutic milieu established on the ward. The patient's total response to remission in acute leukemia can be influenced positively by appropriate intervention based on an assessment of his previous and present patterns of coping.

(JAMA 238:952-954, 1977)