Impact of Life Event and Cancer-related Traumatic Stress on the Degree of Global Perceived Stress in Women with Breast Cancer
As the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States (American Cancer Society, 2007), a breast cancer diagnosis strongly implies a threat on a woman's life. A number of studies demonstrate the stressful nature of a breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment for the disease (e.g., Baider & Kaplan De-Nour, 1997; Golden-Kreutz et al., 2005). Life event, global perceived, and traumatic stress represent three of the most frequent lines of stress research. Little research has been done to compare the three types of stress in the same sample, making it difficult to separate the contribution of each type. The few studies that have been done with all three types find that each is uniquely related to psychological distress or physical and psychological quality of life (Golden-Kreutz et al., 2005). Although research finds that life event stress is related to initial traumatic stress levels (Butler, Koopman, Classen, & Spiegel, 1999), no known studies have examined the impact of cancer-related traumatic stress and life event stress on these women's sense of being globally overwhelmed in their lives. This longitudinal study hypothesized that higher levels of stress specifically related to the cancer diagnosis, and/or higher levels of stress related to life events in the year leading up to diagnosis, would predict the degree that women felt overwhelmed by life in general. Data from 72 women with early stage (0/I/II) breast cancer were followed from shortly after diagnosis to one year after chemotherapy treatment concluded, or 24 months after the start of hormonal therapy. Results show that cancer-specific stress significantly predicted global stress levels around the time of diagnosis. However, cancer-specific stress did not explain variance in later levels of perceived stress beyond that of initial perceived stress levels. In contrast, life event stress did not contribute significantly to the prediction of initial stress levels, but did explain a significant amount of variance in long-term perceived stress levels. Thus, life event stress and perceived stress measures may be the best screening tools for long-term risk for heightened global stress, while cancer-related stress may provide unique predictive power closer to diagnosis.
School:University of Cincinnati
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:breast cancer perceived stress traumatic life event
Date of Publication:01/01/2008