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Soc Sci Med. 1989;28(1):19-27.

Effects of breast cancer and mastectomy on emotional support and adjustment.

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Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


Wortman and Dunkel-Schetter (J. Soc. Issues 35, 120-155, 1979) have argued that victims of misfortune are likely to experience reduced social support at a time when support is needed most. The resulting self-doubt and isolation are thought to increase the victims' distress. Hypotheses derived from their analysis were tested by administering social and emotional adjustment inventories to 301 women who had undergone a mastectomy as treatment for breast cancer, and to 100 women diagnosed as having benign breast lumps (no-cancer, no-mastectomy controls). As expected, perceived emotional support was positively correlated with adjustment. However, contrary to Wortman and Dunkel-Schetter's analysis, the cancer patients perceived greater emotional support from friends and family than did the controls. In addition, these cancer 'victims' were no more socially or emotionally maladjusted than women without cancer.

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