Empirical Research

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 51-60

First online:

Perceptions of control, physical exercise, and psychological adjustment to breast cancer in South African women

  • Barbara A. BremerAffiliated withPennsyvania State University
  • , Cathleen T. MooreAffiliated withPhiladelphia College of Pharmacy and Sciences
  • , Barbara M. BourbonAffiliated withPhiladelphia College of Pharmacy and Sciences
  • , Dawn R. HessAffiliated withPennsyvania State University
  • , Kristin L. BremerAffiliated withMillersville University

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Psychological adjustment and locus of control were measured in 257 South African women both with and without breast cancer. Adjustment was defined as positive affect, negative affect, the balance between the two, satisfaction with various domains of life, and an overall sense of well-being. Health locus of control was measured separately for internal, external, and chance loci. The instrument’s reliability was comparable to that reported for U.S. norms. The women with breast cancer reported significantly lower affect and had lower internal and higher external and chance perceptions of control. The more invasive the surgical treatment, the greater the negative impact on adjustment. Data suggested that using written instructions to stress the importance of exercise to rebuild arm strength immediately following the surgery had a long-lasting positive impact on affect. Side of intervention was also related to psychological adjustment. Significant differences across racial groups were found for both adjustment and health locus of control.