Effects of coping on distress related to family history of breast cancer
Buchalter, Alison Jeanne
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Family history of breast cancer is identified as the strongest predictor that a woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Thus, women with family histories of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (FH+) face a stressor that women without family histories of breast cancer (FH-) do not. Several empirical studies have shown that compared to FH- women, FH+ women have higher levels of both cancer-specific-distress and non-cancer-specific distress. However, a few studies have found variability in distress levels. This study proposes that differences in coping among women may account for this variability.;A sample of 215 women (FH+ = 75, FH- = 140) was recruited from major medical centers in New York City. Participants completed the Profile of Mood States-Short Version (POMS-SV), Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and Impact of Event Scale at three different time points, approximately one month apart, and the Brief COPE (B-COPE), a dispositional measure of coping, once during the study.;Primary research questions addressed (1) whether FH+ women use different coping strategies than FH- women, (2) how coping impacts non-cancer-specific distress in FH+ women as compared to FH- women, and (3) how coping impacts cancer-specific distress in FH+ women as compared to FH- women.;Group comparisons of coping strategies revealed no differences in use of coping strategies by FH+ women and FH- women. Hierarchical regressions showed that family history group did not directly impact non-cancer-specific distress; however, compared to FH- women, FH+ women who used passive coping strategies had higher levels of non-cancer-specific distress. FH+ women reported more intrusion and avoidance related to breast cancer than FH- women. Compared to FH- women, FH+ women who used passive coping strategies, had higher levels of cancer-specific distress.;The findings from this study suggest that women who use passive coping strategies are more likely to have higher levels of both non-cancer-specific and cancer-specific distress. Furthermore, this finding was more pronounced for FH+ women when compared to FH- women.