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