Psychosocial predictors of five-year recurrence in a sample of early stage breast cancer patients

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Charles S. Carver - Committee Chair


While breast cancer recurrence can occur at any time, it is most likely in the first 3 to 5 years after initial treatment. For those who do recur, the survival and emotional implications are profound, yet relatively few studies have examined psychosocial factors potentially influencing breast cancer recurrence. This study examined the main effects of degree of trauma (e.g., stress response) associated with initial breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, and how it might interact with different types and sources of social support, to influence the odds of developing subsequent cancer events within five years of initial diagnosis. Neither main effects nor interactions between stress response and social support were significant in predicting subsequent cancer events within five years but the interaction of trauma response and partner support suggested a trend in that direction. However, analyses revealed that the interaction of trauma response and partner support predicted failure to find at five to eight-year follow-up. Additionally, participants reporting more depression were less likely to participate at follow-up, as were Hispanic individuals. Hispanic participants reported more overall depression than non-Hispanic white and African American participants. However, only perceptions of social support from friends and family significantly predicted attrition among Hispanic individuals. These findings point to the need to understand and address causes of attrition early on in longitudinal research efforts. Additionally, further investigation is warranted in order to more fully elucidate a possible "mind-body" connection with regard disease prognosis.


Psychology, Social; Psychology, Clinical

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