Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 15–29

Emotional Suppression Tendencies as Predictors of Symptoms, Mood, and Coping Appraisals During AC Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer Treatment

Original Article


Tendencies to suppress negative emotions have been shown to predict adjustment to cancer and cancer progression. We examined whether emotional suppression, in terms of both general and emotion-specific tendencies, predict symptom reports, mood states, and coping appraisals during adriamycin/doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide/cytoxan chemotherapy for breast cancer. Forty participants completed a measure yielding scores for anxiety suppression, anger suppression, depression suppression, and total emotional suppression. They then reported their experiences of 34 physical symptoms, mood, and coping efficacy on a daily basis for the duration of treatment (84 days). Mixed model analyses revealed that emotional suppression predicted lower reports of symptoms that are vague, well-known, and potentially embarrassing side effects of chemotherapy (e.g., fatigue and constipation). Emotional suppression and particularly anger suppression predicted higher reports of symptoms relating to immune function and cardiovascular arousal (e.g., mouth sores and heart palpitations) and with appraisals of poorer coping. The three suppression tendencies exhibited distinctive patterns of relationships with symptoms, mood, and coping appraisals, suggesting that anxiety suppression, anger suppression, and depression suppression have partially independent relationships with symptomatic and mood processes. The findings highlight the potential importance of emotional suppression for understanding symptom and coping responses during chemotherapy.


Breast cancer Emotional control Emotion regulation Chemotherapy Side effects 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology (Tamaki Campus)The University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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