Maintenance of quality of life can often represent a challenge for individuals' experiencing health-related issues (Chapman, Duberstein, & Lyness, 2007). Several studies have observed significant relationships between the five-factor personality dimensions, especially neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientiousness, to quality of life among diverse populations not including breast cancer survivors (Chapman et al., 2007; Endermann & Zimmermann, 2009; Masthoff, Trompenaars, Van Heck, Hodiamont, & DeVries, 2007). Empirical findings also show that coping approach and avoidant strategies are predictors of well-being among breast cancer survivors (Holland & Holahan, 2003; Kershaw, Northouse, Kritpracha, Schafenacker, & Mood, 2004; McCaul et al., 1999).
While personality is conceptualized as a stable trait that is expected to remain consistent across situations, coping is conceptualized as a malleable, learnable skill. Researchers have speculated that coping may moderate the relation of personality dimensions to distress (Bolger and Zuckerman, 1995). However, this hypothesis has not been examined with positive psychological outcomes, such as quality of life. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine among breast cancer survivors: (a) the relation of personality to quality of life, and (b) to what extent endorsement of approach and avoidant coping, respectively, moderate the relation of personality to quality of life.
Participants were 145 Caucasian and African-American female early stage breast cancer survivors, English-speaking and 30 years or older. Regression analysis indicated that, when controlling for age, race, and years since diagnosis, neuroticism negatively predicted overall quality of life, while extraversion positively predicted overall quality of life. Results also indicated that approach coping moderated the relation of conscientiousness to quality of life. Graphing of the moderation demonstrated that, among participants endorsing low use of approach coping strategies, the personality dimension of conscientiousness was positively related to quality of life. Among participants endorsing high use of approach coping strategies, the personality dimension of conscientiousness was negatively related to quality of life. These findings suggest that high levels of approach coping may mitigate the positive association that personality dispositions such as self-regulation, persistence, and impulse control may have on quality of life. Implications of these findings for future research and psychotherapy are discussed.