Comparisons between lesbian and non-lesbian women diagnosed with breast cancer

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Charles S. Carver, Committee Chair


This study compared the experiences of lesbian and non-lesbian women who had recently been treated for breast cancer. 78 participants (39 self-identified lesbians and 39 non-lesbians) were matched by age, stage of disease, time since diagnosis, and ethnicity. Data was collected via an extensive questionnaire completed at home and returned by mail. Exclusion criteria included previous diagnosis of cancer, advanced breast cancer (i.e., Stage III or IV), or severe psychopathology. Areas assessed included emotional adjustment, quality of life, optimism, concerns about breast cancer, benefit finding, relationship issues, psychosexual adjustment, social support, and treatment satisfaction. Differences between groups were observed in avoidance of thoughts about breast cancer, concerns and problems with sexual issues, concerns about physical appearance, benefit finding, coping, and social support. It is imperative to increase our understanding of the experiences of sexual minority women with breast cancer so as to develop effective clinical interventions.


Health Sciences, Mental Health; Psychology, Clinical

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