Individual and dyadic predictors of body image in women with breast cancer



Objective: Previous studies examining the body image among breast cancer (BC) patients have primarily focused on their psychosocial adjustment or on the predictive value of body image on quality of life. Little is known about predictors of body image.

Methods: The present study investigated how much body image in women with BC is determined by individual factors (surgery type, medical treatments, disease stage, women's age, depressive symptoms) and by dyadic variables (relationship satisfaction and duration, dyadic coping). Furthermore, two different aspects of women's body image were assessed: self- acceptance and perceptions of partners' acceptance. Ninety-eight German women with early stage BC and their partners participated.

Results: Individual and dyadic aspects of body image were differentially related to body image. Women's depressive symptoms and men's marital satisfaction predicted women's self-acceptance, but not women's perceptions of their partners' acceptance of their appearance. Female's relationship satisfaction and perspective on common dyadic coping predicted women's perceptions of their partner's acceptance of their appearance.

Conclusions: The findings suggest interventions that include strategies to reduce women's depressive symptoms and build relationship satisfaction, might reduce body image difficulties in women after BC. © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.