Daily assessment of psychological distress in breast surgery patients
Ryburn, Nancy Elizabeth
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Breast surgery is extremely stressful since women are facing the possibility of a cancer diagnosis. Even though 80% of the women will not have cancer, the breast surgery experience creates elevated levels of psychological distress. Although empirical studies have documented the pre-surgery time as stressful, no studies to date have examined the pre-surgery levels of psychological distress on a daily basis. This study examines the distress levels for 5 days preceding surgery and identifies the day on which the levels of psychological distress peak.;Two sample groups were taken from on-going studies at a major medical center in New York City. The surgery group of 47 women was recruited from the offices of two breast surgeons. The healthy group of 43 women was recruited for a study on family history of breast cancer. To be a part of this study, women in the surgery group, recorded distress levels for the 5 days preceding the surgery. Women in the healthy group recorded distress levels for 5 consecutive days.;Primary research questions addressed: (1) whether women who are scheduled for breast surgery experience more psychological distress in the 5 days preceding surgery than do their healthy counterparts who are experiencing daily life stressors; (2) whether the peak of psychological distress occurs in the breast surgery patients the day before the procedure; (3) whether the variables of surgery type, level of worry, optimistic and pessimistic outlooks, trait anxiety, age, or family history of breast cancer significantly affect levels of distress.;Results of repeated measures ANOVA revealed that women in the surgery group were experiencing more psychological distress than women in the healthy group. In the surgery group, distress levels peaked on the day preceding surgery. None of the other variables directly impacted the levels of psychological distress over the 5-day period. On the day preceding surgery, a t-test revealed that optimism was a factor in decreasing distress.