Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

A Study of Coping, Psychological Distress and Subjective Wellbeing among Breast Cancer Women

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

A Study of Coping, Psychological Distress and Subjective Wellbeing among Breast Cancer Women

Article excerpt

Breast cancer (BC) is the most frequent malignant disease among women. According to American reports every third cancer is diagnosed as BC. In 2002 the incidence rate and death rate for invasive BC, were 124.9 and 25.5 per 100,000 women respectively (US Cancer Statistics). There is extensive literature on the psychological impact of cancer in breast cancer patients. Reviews of existing research estimate that a third to half of women with breast cancer experience psychological distress and that multiple antecedent and concomitant factors influence psychological functioning of patients over time (Knobf, 2007 and Institute of Medicine, 2004). Psychological distress experienced by cancer patients has been thoroughly studied throughout the various stages of the disease. Interestingly, although several studies have shown that cancer patients in general, breast cancer patients included, were more depressed than the general population, a meta analytical review showed that no significant differences were found in terms of anxiety and overall psychological distress (Van't et al., 1997). In patients with a prognosis of six months or less, prevalence of depression according to the ICD-10 diagnostic criteria was 22% (Lloyd Williams & Friedman, 2001), while studies that have focused on psychological distress during the course of the disease have shown that psychological distress increases significantly in the last two to three months before death and especially in the last month of life (Hanson et al., 2000., Hwang et al., 2003; & Akechi et al., 2004). Regarding breast cancer in particular, up to one third of patients may suffer from psychological morbidity during the year following an initial operation (Lloyd Williams & Friedman, 2001, Helgeson et al., 2004 & Thewes, 2004); moreover, it is acknowledged that adverse effects of adjuvant cancer treatments may also play a part in psychological adjustment (Ferrell et al., 1996), with problems persisting in a significant proportion of women up to several years following treatment (Stanton et al., 2002; & Knobf, 2002). Furthermore, several psychosocial and demographic variables have been identified as affecting psychological morbidity, such as age at diagnosis (Cowley et al., 2000; Arora et al., 2001), marital status (Ganz et al., 2003,2004), health complaints after surgery unrelated to cancer (18), and premorbid personality characteristics (Ganz et al., 2003; Glaus et al., 2006). However, in the majority of studies assessing psychopathology in women suffering from breast cancer, either within group comparisons are made at different time points, i.e. before and after the onset of the disease or during its progress through different stages, or between the study group and a group of patients suffering from another disease. Few studies have included a control group of healthy women and usually their principal objective was not to measure psychopathology (Stone et al., 2000; Carlson et al., 2007). WOMEN with breast cancer feel diverse physical concerns as well as emotional problems such as distress, anxiety, or depression (Spiegel, 1997). As a way to reduce these problems and increase their quality of life, women with breast cancer have been found to rely on a diverse range of coping mechanisms, which are known to reduce distress (e.g. Han et al., 2008).

The objective of the present study was to compare a group of women suffering from breast cancer and a control group of healthy women or women suffering from benign breast diseases in terms of coping, psychogogical distress and subjective wellbeing. A further aim was to identify potential risk factors for the development of psychological morbidity, as its early detection and preventive therapeutic interventions have been found in longitudinal studies to improve outcome (Hanson et al., 2000).

Method

Participants

The sample used in the present study consisted of two groups of subjects i.e. Clinical group Breast Cancer patients (N=100) and normal controls (N=100). …

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