The relationship between adult attachment and coping with brain tumour: The mediating role of social support

Anna Trejnowska*, Karen Goodall, Robert Rush, Marion Ellison, Chris McVittie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: A primary brain tumour diagnosis is known to elicit higher distress than other forms of cancer and is related to high depressive symptomatology. Using a cross-sectional design, the present study explored how individuals cope with this diagnosis using an attachment theory framework. Attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance were hypothesised to be positively related to helplessness/hopelessness, anxious preoccupation, and cognitive avoidance; and negatively related to fighting spirit and fatalism coping. We proposed perceived social support to play a mediating role in those associations. Methods: Four hundred and eighty participants diagnosed with primary brain tumours completed the Mini-Mental Adjustment to Cancer Scale (Mini-MAC), the Experiences in Close Relationships Questionnaire-Revised (ECR-R), and the modified Medical Outcomes Study-Social Support Scale (mMOS-SSS) online. Results: Lower perceived social support mediated the positive associations between both higher attachment anxiety and avoidance and higher helpless/hopeless coping. Attachment anxiety was also positively associated with anxious preoccupation. This relationship was not mediated by perceived social support. Cognitive avoidance was unrelated to both attachment dimensions and social support. Conclusions: The findings highlight that the differences in coping repertoire are associated with social relatedness factors, specifically attachment security and its relationship to perceived social support. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-736
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Early online date26 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Dec 2019


  • adult attachment
  • brain neoplasms
  • cancer
  • coping
  • oncology
  • emotional adjustment
  • social support


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