Life events prior to manifestation of breast cancer: a limited prospective study covering eight years before diagnosis

Journal of Psychosomatic Research
S Geyer

Abstract

The role of life events in breast cancer was conceptualized within two models differing by vulnerability factors, 'social support' and 'early loss of mother'. The eight years prior to manifestation of the lump were covered by semi-structured interviews. Event ratings were performed according to Brown and Harris' Life Events and Difficulties Scale, an interviewer-based rating method. Data were collected within a so-called limited prospective design. This setting was subject to critical evaluation to control possible artifacts. Interviews were tape-recorded and rated before learning the final diagnosis. In the tumor groups, 97 women with a suspicious breast lump were interviewed immediately after hospital admission. In 33 cases, the diagnosis turned out to be malign, 59 had a benign result. Data analysis revealed that life events in the severest categories were reported most often in the cancer group. Path analyses showed that effects do not disappear when control variables are taken into account.

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