Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Life Stressors, Emotional Avoidance and Breast Cancer

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Life Stressors, Emotional Avoidance and Breast Cancer

Article excerpt

Two groups of women were assessed in psychological aspects considered by some authors of interest for personal well-being. The sample consisted of 118 women, 58 diagnosed with breast cancer and 60 healthy women, of similar ages and personal circumstances. The purpose of the study was: (a) to explore the existence of stressful life events in the women's history and their degree of subjective distress and (b) to determine whether or not there is an emotional avoidance style in the group of women with breast cancer. The following assessment instruments were employed: the "Cuestionario de Formas de Afrontamiento" (CEA), the Five-Factor Inventory NEOPI- R, and the State-Trait Anger Inventory (STAXI). The results revealed more stressful vital events in the last two years in the group of women with breast cancer and significant differences in the degree of current distress. They also obtained higher scores in current anger, resignation, and neuroticism.

Keywords: breast cancer, adverse life events, emotional suppression

Se ha realizado una evaluación de aspectos psicológicos a un grupo de 118 mujeres; 58 diagnosticadas de cáncer de mama y 60 mujeres sanas, de edades y situación personal similares. El estudio tiene como objetivos evaluar en la historia de las mujeres con cáncer de mama y comparar con el grupo de mujeres sanas: (a) la existencia de estresores vitales y su grado de malestar subjetivo y (b) rasgos de personalidad considerados característicos de un estilo de evitación emocional. Los instrumentos de evaluación utilizados son: el Cuestionario de Formas de Afrontamiento (CEA), el Inventario de Cinco Factores NEO-PI-R, y el Inventario Rasgo-Estado de Ira (STAXI). Los resultados encuentran, en el grupo de mujeres con cáncer de mama, mayor proporción de situaciones vitales estresantes durante los dos últimos años y diferencias significativas en el grado de malestar actual. También puntuaron más alto en las variables ira actual, resignación y neuroticismo.

Palabras clave: cáncer de mama, estresores vitales, evitación emocional

In this work, we address psychological aspects, such as the appraisal of the degree of distress produced by the experience of high-impact psychosocial stressors and the assessment of an emotional avoidance style, in women with breast cancer.

According to some health professionals, research has generally ignored women's particular details and has disregarded their complaints or needs, and their specific distress (Valls Llobet, 2005). Current research of health in the general population shows that women pay more visits to the doctor and they have more chronic problems, and these rates increase with age. Between the ages of 45 and 65, women have more health problems because they have higher levels of daily stress and, in general, due to the higher family overload they bear in comparison to men. This is because the women still feel responsible for the care of their families, and this makes them more vulnerable to suffering and disease (Velasco Arias, 2005).

In this work, emotional factors and coping with stressful life events are considered fundamental, as they play a predominant role in the production of health-disease (Cano Vindel & Miguel Tobal, 2001; Cardenal, 2001; Lieberman & Goldstein, 2005; Sirgo, Díaz-Ovejero, Cano-Vindel, & Pérez-Manga, 2001). It is well known that the study of emotions is quite difficult, especially because, in such analyses, complex processes that are interrelated within many variables must be separated.

In the decade of the 1970s, the discipline of Psycho- Oncology was updated, as a result of the research efforts of authors like James Holland (Holland & Murillo, 2003). And as of 1980, it was reinforced due to psychologists' and psychiatrists' exchange of clinical observations of cancer patients' problems, thus creating the International Psycho- Oncology Society, in which information is exchanged about psychosocial variables, the immune system, its vulnerability, and cancer (López Martinez, 2003). …

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