Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 2851–2859 | Cite as

Self-efficacy for coping with symptoms moderates the relationship between physical symptoms and well-being in breast cancer survivors taking adjuvant endocrine therapy

  • Rebecca A. ShelbyEmail author
  • Sara N. Edmond
  • Anava A. Wren
  • Francis J. Keefe
  • Jeffrey M. Peppercorn
  • Paul K. Marcom
  • Kimberly L. Blackwell
  • Gretchen G. Kimmick
Original Article



This study examined the relationships between physical symptoms, self-efficacy for coping with symptoms, and functional, emotional, and social well-being in women who were taking adjuvant endocrine therapy for breast cancer.


One hundred and twelve women who were taking adjuvant endocrine therapy (tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor) for breast cancer completed measures of physical symptoms, self-efficacy for coping with symptoms, and functional, social, and emotional well-being at the time of routine medical follow-up (women were on average 3.4 years post-surgery; range 3 months to 11 years).


Multiple linear regression analyses showed that higher self-efficacy for coping with symptoms was associated with greater functional, emotional, and social well-being after controlling for physical symptoms (p < 0.05). Self-efficacy for coping with symptoms moderated the relationship between physical symptoms and functional (B = 0.05, SE = 0.02, t = 2.67, p = 0.009) and emotional well-being (B = 0.03, SE = 0.01, t = 2.45, p = 0.02). As self-efficacy increased, the relationship between greater physical symptoms and lower well-being became weaker. Among women with high levels of self-efficacy, physical symptoms were not related to functional and emotional well-being.


Self-efficacy for coping with symptoms may reduce the negative impact of physical symptoms and contribute to well-being in breast cancer survivors taking adjuvant endocrine therapy. Future studies could examine whether psychosocial interventions aimed at increasing self-efficacy for managing symptoms help women better cope with treatment side effects and improve quality of life.


Breast cancer Adjuvant endocrine therapy Self-efficacy Functional well-being Emotional well-being Social well-being Physical symptoms 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest to report. We have full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca A. Shelby
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sara N. Edmond
    • 1
  • Anava A. Wren
    • 1
  • Francis J. Keefe
    • 1
  • Jeffrey M. Peppercorn
    • 2
  • Paul K. Marcom
    • 2
  • Kimberly L. Blackwell
    • 2
  • Gretchen G. Kimmick
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine—OncologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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