Expression of emotions related to the experience of cancer in younger and older Arab breast cancer survivors

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Objectives. Researchers have suggested that older adults express less negative emotions. Yet, emotional expression patterns in older and younger breast cancer survivors, have barely been examined. This study aimed to explore types and intensity of negative and positive emotional expression related to the breast cancer experience by younger and older Arab breast cancer survivors. Design. Participants were 20 younger (aged 32–50) and 20 older (aged 51–75) Muslim and Christian Arab breast cancer survivors (stages I–III), currently free of disease. Data were gathered through in-depth semi-structured interviews. Mixed methods analyses were conducted, including: (1) frequency analysis of participants' emotional expressions; (2) content analysis of emotional expressions, categorized according to negative and positive emotions. Results. Three emotional expression modalities were revealed: (1) Succinct versus comprehensive accounts; (2) expression of emotions versus avoidance of emotions; (3) patterns of expression of positive emotions and a sense of personal growth. Younger women provided more detailed accounts about their illness experiences than older women. Older women's accounts were succinct, action-focused, and included more emotion-avoiding expressions than younger women. Conclusions. Understanding the relationships between emotional expression, emotional experience, and cancer survivors' quality of life, specifically of those from traditional communities, is necessary for developing effective psycho-social interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-577
Number of pages14
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Age
  • Arab women
  • breast cancer survivors
  • emotion regulation
  • expression of emotions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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