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Behav Med. 2002 Spring;28(1):15-22.

First-degree relatives of breast-cancer patients: cognitive perceptions, coping, and adherence to breast self-examination.

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School of Social Work, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Studies, Haifa University, Mount Carmel, Israel.


The author assessed patterns of breast self-examination (BSE) related to cognitive appraisal, coping, and emotional distress in 80 women with first-degree relatives who were breast-cancer patients and 47 matched controls. Participants with first-degree relatives adhered to BSE better than did women with no family history of breast cancer, and women whose relatives had recurrent or metastatic disease performed more BSE than those whose relatives were currently disease free. Greater adherence to BSE was associated with lower levels of depression, more problem-focused coping, older age, and more education. In the women with first-degree relatives, BSE was also associated with higher perceptions of (a) control over prevention, (b) risk for breast cancer, and (c) higher levels of state anxiety. Perception of control, problem-focused coping, depression, and anxiety predicted 35% of the variance in adherence to BSE. The findings suggest that cognitive appraisal, coping strategies, and levels of emotional distress should be considered in designing programs for enhancing adherence to early detection procedures.

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