Document Detail

Beliefs about medicine and illness are associated with fear of cancer recurrence in women taking adjuvant endocrine therapy for breast cancer.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23134580     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
OBJECTIVES: Adjuvant endocrine therapy for early-stage breast cancer has greatly reduced the morbidity and mortality associated with breast cancer recurrence. Despite this, a significant proportion of women report fears of cancer recurrence. This study examined the associations between fear of cancer recurrence (FoR) and illness perceptions, medication beliefs, and treatment side effects in women taking adjuvant endocrine therapy following breast cancer.
METHODS: A total of 153 post-menopausal women with early-stage breast cancer completed a postal survey. Analyses were conducted to examine the association between FoR and illness perceptions, medication beliefs, treatment side effects, demographic factors, and emotional distress and to identify which of these factors would be most strongly associated with FoR in a regression model.
RESULTS: All illness perceptions (apart from personal control) were associated with FoR, as were patient beliefs about endocrine therapy. Although treatment side effects, being unemployed, and higher levels of anxiety and depression were associated with FoR, only illness perceptions (identity, treatment control, timeline, and emotional representation) and medication necessity beliefs were significantly correlated with FoR in the final model.
CONCLUSIONS: It appears that, in addition to directly targeting FoR, it may be worthwhile to address the illness and medication beliefs supporting the fear. Additionally, helping women to differentiate everyday symptoms from those indicative of breast cancer may help to reduce fear of recurrence.
STATEMENT OF CONTRIBUTION: What is already known on this subject? A significant proportion of women report fear of cancer recurrence following breast cancer. The literature shows that illness perceptions, side effects of treatment, and beliefs about medicines are related to fear of recurrence among cancer patients. However, because these variables have often been looked at in isolation, it is not clear whether some perceptions or cues are more likely to relate to fear of recurrence than others. What does this study add? This study shows illness perceptions and medication beliefs are strongly related to fears of cancer recurrence. The results point to ways in which the self-regulatory model of illness may be used to reduce patients' fear of recurrence. The study results show that women with higher fear of recurrence may be balancing a tension between believing that they need to take the medication to protect their future health alongside concerns that the treatment may not be working.
Arden L Corter; Michael Findlay; Reuben Broom; David Porter; Keith J Petrie
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2012-11-08
Journal Detail:
Title:  British journal of health psychology     Volume:  18     ISSN:  2044-8287     ISO Abbreviation:  Br J Health Psychol     Publication Date:  2013 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-01-16     Completed Date:  2013-07-09     Revised Date:  2013-07-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9605409     Medline TA:  Br J Health Psychol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  168-81     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
© 2012 The British Psychological Society.
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
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MeSH Terms
Adaptation, Psychological
Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic / therapeutic use*
Analysis of Variance
Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
Anxiety / etiology,  psychology
Attitude to Health*
Breast Neoplasms / complications,  drug therapy*,  psychology*
Combined Modality Therapy / methods
Depression / etiology,  psychology
Fear / psychology*
Middle Aged
Stress, Psychological / etiology,  psychology
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Adjuvants, Pharmaceutic; 0/Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal

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