, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 22-36
Date: 20 Oct 2012

Which symptoms matter? Self-report and observer discrepancies in repressors and high-anxious women with metastatic breast cancer

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Abstract

Clinicians working with cancer patients listen to them, observe their behavior, and monitor their physiology. How do we proceed when these indicators do not align? Under self-relevant stress, non-cancer repressors respond with high arousal but report low anxiety; the high-anxious report high anxiety but often have lower arousal. This study extends discrepancy research on repressors and the high-anxious to a metastatic breast cancer sample and examines physician rating of coping. Before and during a Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), we assessed affect, autonomic reactivity, and observers coded emotional expression from TSST videotapes. We compared non-extreme (N = 40), low-anxious (N = 16), high-anxious (N = 19), and repressors (N = 19). Despite reported low anxiety, repressors expressed significantly greater Tension or anxiety cues. Despite reported high anxiety, the high-anxious expressed significantly greater Hostile Affect rather than Tension. Physicians rated both groups as coping significantly better than others. Future research might productively study physician-patient interaction in these groups.