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October 2021

Psychological stress, adjustment and cross-cultural considerations in breast cancer patients

Author(s): vanOers, H. M.

Journal/Book: S Afr J Psychol. 1999; 29: P O Box 1758, Pretoria 0001, South Africa. Bureau Scientific Publ. 30-35.

Abstract: There is a dearth of information regarding the psychological experience of breast cancer in the South African context, particularly within the black population. Existing psychological studies have focused mainly:on the healthy breast or instances of non-malignant disease, largely within the white population from a Western perspective. This study addressed some of these concerns and examined and compared the nature and degree of psychological distress with reference to specific variables experienced by South African black and white breast cancer patients. Fifty women, comprising two equal groups of 25 black:and white breast cancer patients were assessed and compared in terms of their levels of depression, body image dysphoria and styles of psychological adjustment during the course of their post-surgical chemotherapy treatment. There were several differences in the psychological experiences of black and white breast cancer patients. Most of the black patients were found to experience greater levels of somatisation, depression and body image:dysphoria and tended to utilise less adaptive styles of adjustment to their disease. The only measure on which both groups more closely resembled each other was that of anxiety. The greater levels of psychological distress reported by most of the black patient group may be due to traditional cultural reasons which possibly predispose them to suppress emotions or somatise them rather than display these outwardly, and because of a lack of knowledge and of psyche-oncological services for this group. These patients could be regarded as being at high risk for elevated distress levels requiring psychological intervention.

Note: Article Schlebusch L, Univ Natal, Sch Med, Dept Medically Appl Psychol, Private Bag 7, ZA-4013 Congella, SOUTH AFRICA

Keyword(s): BODY-IMAGE; MASTECTOMY; DEPRESSION; EXPERIENCE; ILLNESS


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