Perceived Growth and Decline Following Breast Cancer: A Comparison to Age-matched Controls 5-years Later12/01/2005
Research indicates that individuals who experience stressful life events, such as a diagnosis of cancer, often experience both positive and negative changes as a result of their experiences, but little research has compared these changes with those of a control group who have experienced other stressful life events. We compared 184 5-year breast cancer survivors (Stages: I, II, and III; 95% Caucasian) with 184 age-matched controls in terms of perceived growth and decline that stem from stressful events. Survivors reported on their experience with cancer, whereas controls identified the most stressful event that happened to them 5 years ago. Survivors reported more growth (e.g. appreciation of life) and more decline (e.g. physical side effects) compared with controls. However, there were no group differences in reports of psychological stress. When survivors were compared with controls whose stressor was a personal health problem, many of the differences in growth between the two groups remained, but the differences in decline disappeared. These findings suggest that some growth is unique to breast cancer, but much of the decline associated with breast cancer is similar to the decline associated with other types of health problems. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.