Cancer bloggers' styles of humor while coping with cancer
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This study explores the use of humor among bloggers coping with cancer. Framed by health communication literature on stress and coping and literature on humor styles, I analyzed the use of humor by individuals coping with various types of cancer. Using content analysis, I investigated 600 blog posts from 85 cancer bloggers for humor use. I adapted the Humor Styles Questionnaire (HSQ), a scale assessing four different uses of humor, into a codebook to use for content analysis within the blog posts. The different styles of humor included affiliative, self-enhancing, aggressive, and self-defeating. Individually, I tested the relationships between the style of humor a blogger used and the blogger’s gender, age, type of cancer, and point in the cancer trajectory. I also tested the relationships between the frequency of humor use within each blog post and the blogger’s gender, age, type of cancer, and point in the cancer trajectory. Every humorous remark was categorized into at least one of the four humor style categories. Overall, I found no significant relationships among the variables tested. However, each of the humor styles was used multiple times throughout the sample. This study provides future researchers with a new way to operationalize humor use based on the HSQ and with relevant examples from cancer blogs. The findings also suggest that humor is a common communicative device among those coping with cancer, and further research into how humor is used among more specific samples of cancer patients may provide more significant results.