Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 313–323 | Cite as

Self-Blame and Distress Among Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer

  • Kymberley K. Bennett
  • Bruce E. Compas
  • Ellen Beckjord
  • Judith G. Glinder
Original Article

This study examined relations between behavioral and characterological self-blame attributions for breast cancer and psychological distress in the year following a diagnosis. One hundred fifteen women with newly diagnosed breast cancer participated. First, we predicted that both forms of self-blame would be associated with distress shortly after diagnosis (i.e., at 4 months). Second, we predicted that only characterological self-blame would be related to distress at 7 and 12 months post-diagnosis because behavioral self-blame would enhance perceptions of control, thereby protecting against distress. Results supported the first hypothesis; both forms of self-blame were related to symptoms of anxiety and depression at 4 months post-diagnosis. Findings did not support the second hypothesis because both forms of self-blame continued to be related to distress at 7 and 12 months post-diagnosis. Furthermore, perceptions of control did not mediate the self-blame/distress relation. Implications for social cognitive processes in adaptation to breast cancer are discussed.


self-blame attributions breast cancer psychological distress 



This research was supported by grant R01CA67936 from the National Cancer Institute to Bruce E. Compas, and preparation of this manuscript was supported by NIMH Training Grant T32-MH18921 and NICHD Grant P30HD15052 to Vanderbilt University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kymberley K. Bennett
    • 1
  • Bruce E. Compas
    • 2
  • Ellen Beckjord
    • 3
  • Judith G. Glinder
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyIndiana State UniversityTerre HauteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Human DevelopmentVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.The Cancer Prevention Fellowship ProgramDivision of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer InstituteBethesdaUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VermontVermontUSA

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