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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2003 Aug;71(4):805-11.

Social support as a mediator of optimism and distress in breast cancer survivors.

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  • 1Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, Brown Medical School and The Miriam Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. jtrunzo@bryant.edu


Breast cancer patients can experience emotional distress as a result of diagnosis and treatment. Higher levels of optimism and social support are associated with less emotional distress in cancer patients. This 12-month prospective study followed 69 women who had completed treatment for Stages 0-II breast cancer. At 3-month intervals, participants completed measures of mood disturbance, optimism, and social support. As hypothesized, affective social support mediated the relationship between optimism and distress in early-stage breast cancer survivors at baseline and 6 months but not at 1 year. In contrast, confidant social support did not mediate the optimism-distress relationship at any time point. Clinical and research implications of these findings are discussed.

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