Sex Roles

, Volume 79, Issue 3–4, pp 218–227 | Cite as

Perceptions of Control in Women Undergoing Cancer-Related Surgery on Psychological Perceptions of Health

  • Emily A. VargasEmail author
  • Ramaswami Mahalingam
  • Brandy Michaels
  • Lourdes Cabrera
  • Elizabeth Campbell
  • Rebecca Liu
Original Article


Research has found that perceived health locus of control is related to increased health-enhancing behaviors. However, studies have not examined if perceived health locus of control similarly impacts psychological health and have largely ignored women’s health. These studies have also overlooked contexts where individuals have little control over their behaviors. Therefore, in the current study, we examine how perceptions of health locus of control relate to psychological health in a sample of women with clinical suspicion of having gynecological cancer. Women (n = 301), ranging from 40 to 80 years-old and undergoing inpatient gynecological surgery at Michigan Medicine University of Michigan, USA, were included in our study. Data, including psychological measures of control and health perceptions, were collected preoperatively. Our findings indicate that increased perceptions of health locus of control were related to a significant increase in preoperative psychological health through a reduction in negative affect, controlling for the invasiveness of the planned procedure (more invasive Laparotomy or Laparoscopy) and the subsequent formal postoperative diagnosis (benign or malignant). These findings have implications for enhancing women’s preoperative health. We provide insight for promoting positive interactions between healthcare providers and patients, and we discuss postoperative implications.


Locus of control Affect Cancer Women Mental health Physical health 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

The study was approved by the University of Michigan Medical School IRB (IRBMED #2004-0814) and there were no conflicts of interest.

Informed Consent

All participants were given informed consent, and consented to participate in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan Health System, Von Voigtlander Women’s HospitalUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Michigan Society of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons Quality CollaborativeAnn ArborUSA

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