Publication Abstract

Authors: Dougall AL, Smith AW, Somers TJ, Posluszny DM, Rubinstein WS, Baum A

Title: Coping with genetic testing for breast cancer susceptibility.

Journal: Psychosom Med 71(1):98-105

Date: 2009 Jan

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To examine how women cope with genetic testing for heightened susceptibility to breast cancer. METHODS: Participants were 126 White women (age = 44 +/- 9 years) who were participants in a larger study of genetic testing for risk of different chronic diseases. All women were at higher-than-average risk for breast cancer due to a personal and/or family history and were considering genetic testing. Distress (Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, Impact of Event Scale, Perceived Stress Scale, Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale) was assessed at four assessments; one before and three after the decision to have genetic testing. The majority of women (n = 100) had testing. The follow-up assessments occurred at 1 week after receiving results (or 3-4 months after baseline if testing was not elected), and then at 3 and 6 months after the second assessment. Coping (Brief COPE) was measured at the first and third assessments. RESULTS: Coping was relatively stable over time and did not vary as a function of genetic test results. Active coping strategies were used more often by women with a personal cancer history than by women without cancer. Use of avoidant coping was reliably and positively associated with distress over time independent of cancer history and test result. CONCLUSIONS: The identification of specific coping styles that were associated with more or less distress is useful as a means of identifying and targeting coping interventions and predicting which participants may be at risk for distress.