Coping and emotional distress in primary and recurrent breast cancer patients

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The purpose of this study was to explore the emotional distress and coping strategies among women with primary as against recurrent (local or metastatic) breast cancer. The study sample consisted of 80 women, all 1 year postdiagnosis of primary or recurrent breast cancer. All women completed a demographic questionnaire, the Emotional Symptoms Checklist (SCL-90R) and the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (WCQ). Patients with recurrence reported higher levels of depression and anxiety as well as a higher global severity index (GSI). This group used significantly fewer problem-solving and positive-focus strategies. Emotion-focused coping predicted depression and the GSI, but only positive attitude predicted the level of anxiety. The state of disease was a major predictor of emotional symptoms, and to a lesser extent of the coping strategies used. Although emotion-focused coping had a deleterious effect on emotional well-being, our study highlighted the importance and relevance of positive attitude for reducing emotional distress in general and level of anxiety in particular. Promotion of positive-focus coping strategies should thus be a key element in psychological interventions with cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-251
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by a grant from the Israel Cancer Association.


  • Breast cancer
  • Coping
  • Emotional distress
  • Primary
  • Recurrent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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