Stress, optimism, and social support: Impact on immune responses in breast cancer



The purpose of this study was to examine the direct and stress-buffering effect of optimism and satisfaction with social support on immune responses in women with breast cancer. Participants were 54 post-operative (M = 19 days) breast cancer patients who completed questionnaires on stress, optimism, and satisfaction with social support and provided blood to measure natural killer cell activity (NKCA) and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) from whole blood. Higher levels of stress were associated with decrements in NKCA and IFN-γ. Optimism moderated the relationship of stress on NKCA but was not related to IFN-γ. Satisfaction with social support was unrelated to immune responses. Results suggest that interventions aimed at reducing stress and enhancing optimism in women with breast cancer might promote optimal immune response. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 30: 72–83, 2007