ABSTRACT: Using a cross-sectional, exploratory design, this pilot study analyzed the relationships between familial history of breast cancer and psychological distress in order to evaluate who is more distressed and to assess the possible need for intervention. Coping style, social support, and family relations were investigated as potential moderators of these relationships. Participants were 45 women with a familial history of breast cancer recruited from the Family Registry for Breast Cancer (FRBC) at the Northern California Cancer Center (NCCC). Contrary to previous reports of similar cohorts, the overall level of psychological distress in this cohort was comparable to normative samples. The number of relatives with breast cancer was related to distress as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) scale, but there was no significant differentiation in distress associated with the number of first-degree as compared to second- and third-degree relatives with breast cancer. Having more relatives that had died from breast cancer was associated with greater distress on a number of measures. The number of first-degree relative deaths, including maternal death, was also associated with distress. Positive and network support, disengagement coping responses, and family cohesion were each significant moderators of the impact of family history on distress. This association between distress and disengagement is similar to that found in metastatic breast cancer patients themselves, and the findings suggest a subgroup that merits and might respond to more intensive intervention to provide support and facilitate emotional expression.
The Breast Journal 12/2005; 12(1):7 - 15. · 1.64 Impact Factor