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Breast cancer, Coping, Coping strategies, Premenopausal



  1. Manuel, Janeen C. PhD
  2. Burwell, Stephanie R. PhD
  3. Crawford, Sybil L. PhD
  4. Lawrence, Renee H. PhD
  5. Farmer, Deborah F. PhD
  6. Hege, Anita RN, MPH
  7. Phillips, Kimberly RN, PhD
  8. Avis, Nancy E. PhD


Numerous studies have demonstrated an association between coping strategies and better quality of life after breast cancer. Because younger women consistently show greater psychological morbidity than older women after breast cancer diagnosis, there is great interest in the coping strategies of younger women. The present cross-sectional study used quantitative and qualitative methods to examine coping strategies used by 201 women who were aged 50 years or younger at diagnosis and were 6 months to 3.5 years postdiagnosis. Quantitative results from a modified version of the Ways of Coping scale revealed that the most frequently used coping strategies were positive cognitive restructuring, wishful thinking, and making changes. Qualitative analyses based on open-ended questioning of how women best coped with different stressful aspects of their diagnosis showed that women reported finding different strategies useful depending on the stressor. For example, social support was helpful in dealing with anger or depression, whereas positive cognitive restructuring was more helpful for concerns about the future. Analyses also confirmed that most coping strategies cited in commonly administered coping scales were used frequently by these women. However, several coping strategies not generally measured were also deemed valuable, including engaging in physical activity, using medications, and resting. These findings suggest that clinicians should identify patients' particular stressors and help with coping techniques targeting particular concerns.