Attachment and cancer: A conceptual integration

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16 Scopus citations


Cancer traditionally has been explained by the biomedical model; however, it is limited in comprehensively accounting for all factors in this disease. Recently, it has been suggested that a broader theoretical framework that includes psychosocial components in cancer is needed to complement the traditional approach. The purpose of this article, therefore, is to explore the utility of attachment theory as a biopsychosocial model of both development and health. Attachment, a developmental theory, explains how repeated interactions between caregiver and child in the early years establish lifelong psychosocial, physiological, affective, and cognitive patterns as well as enduring patterns of stress response to threat or illness. Despite attachment theory's biopsychosocial foundation, the application of attachment security as a factor in physical health and psychosomatic medicine is relatively recent. The current work reviews attachment theory and psychosocial literature with regard to cancer and follows with a novel attempt to conceptually integrate both bodies of literature. A concluding integrative model of attachment theory and the type C behavior pattern is provided to illustrate potential links and integrative processes that may lead to disease resilience or vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-381
Number of pages11
JournalIntegrative Cancer Therapies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002


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