The Psychosocial Correlates Of Breast Disease (cancer, Benign, Bbd)

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




The present study attempted to identify epidemiologic, life history, and psychologic characteristics of women with both benign and malignant breast disease. The 283 subjects, drawn from a South Florida outpatient breast cancer screening clinic, included 21 post-mastectomy breast cancer (BC/PM) patients, 183 benign breast disease (BBD) patients, 11 cancer-suspicious patients, 3 newly confirmed breast cancer patients, and 65 women who were judged to be free of breast pathology. Three sets of analyses were run according to (a) breast disease status (i.e., BBD, BC/PM and Healthy subjects), (b) benign breast disease subgrouping (i.e., symptomatic vs. asymptomatic and chronic vs. non-chronic), and (c) presence or absence of breast lesions, regardless of diagnosis, in all subjects. In addition to clinical interviews and breast examinations (palpation with mammograms), all subjects also completed a battery of questionnaires which included a health problem checklist, a life stress inventory, a relationships questionnaire, and the Millon Behavioral Health Inventory (MBHI).Previously suggested relationships between breast cancer and epidemiologic factors (e.g. menstrual-reproductive histories), predisposing early life experiences (e.g., parental indifference; early loss), or personality variables (e.g. passivity; inappropriate expression of anger) were not supported by the present findings. BC/PM subjects did score lowest on the MBHI Chronic Tension scale, which includes measures of impatience, assertiveness, and ease of anger expression. This finding, however, was not statistically significant.Compared to previously diagnosed BBD subjects, currently symptomatic BBD subjects reported significantly greater feelings of social alienation on the MBHI, as well as more recent life stress, although this latter finding was not significant. Chronic BBD subjects reported significantly more health problems, but not more somatic anxiety, than non-chronic BBD subjects. Although, consistent with previous reports, BBD subjects reported more Chronic Tension than the breast cancer or healthy subjects, the observed differences were nonsignificant. In fact, scores for all three groups were within the average range on this MBHI scale.Finally, irrespective of type of lesion, the presence of a breast mass at the time of assessment was associated with significantly more recent life stress, as well as significantly greater feelings of social alienation.


Psychology, Clinical

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