Daughters of Women with Breast Cancer: Threatened, Coping or Unaffected
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PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the psychological reactions of daughters of women with breast cancer. Also, the way in which women cope with the threat of breast cancer, how families are impacted by this disease, and post-traumatic growth among daughters was examined. METHODS: 142 daughters of women with breast cancer completed an online survey measuring their levels of anxiety, reported closeness to their mothers, exposure to their mother's cancer and involvement in caregiving, intrusive thoughts, self-reported predicted likelihood of getting breast cancer, self-reported likelihood of undergoing genetic testing, and personal ways of coping. In addition, these daughters completed 4 open ended questions addressing their reactions to their mother's cancer and positive coping strategies they used to deal with their mother's diagnosis. RESULTS: Daughters contact with their mothers during the mother's diagnosis and treatment was positively correlated with high levels of intrusive thoughts. Also, daughter's perception of the threat of the disease was not correlated with intrusive thoughts or a greater likelihood of seeking genetic testing. Qualitative analysis revealed daughters employed a variety of positive coping strategies and had a wide range of reactions to their mother's diagnosis as well as their personal threat of developing breast cancer. CONCLUSIONS: The daughters reacted in many different ways based on the different relationships they had with their mothers. Other important variables that affected participants' ways of coping were levels of anxiety, closeness to their mother, levels of personal control, attachment styles, and intrusive thoughts.
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