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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • oncology;
  • survivorship;
  • posttraumatic growth;
  • subjective well-being

Abstract

Objective

Social support is theoretically expected to be positively associated with posttraumatic growth (PTG) and subjective well-being, and stress is expected to be positively associated with PTG and negatively associated with subjective well-being among breast cancer (BC) survivors. However, empirical evidence is mixed, predominantly cross-sectional, and few studies have examined the unique effects of these predictors on positive changes in psychological experiences post cancer diagnosis and systemic treatment. This study examined both general and BC-specific social support and stress as predictors of change in PTG and subjective well-being among BC survivors.

Methods

Women (N = 173, Mage = 55.40, SD = 10.99) who had recently finished treatment completed demographic and treatment measures at baseline (T1); general and cancer-specific social support and stress, PTG and subjective well-being at 3 months (T2); and PTG and subjective well-being again at 6 months (T3). Longitudinal predictors of change in PTG and subjective well-being were examined using hierarchical multiple regression.

Results

The BC-specific social support (β = .12) and stress (cancer worry; β = .10) predicted increasing levels of PTG. Improvements in subjective well-being were predicted by higher levels of general social support (β = .21) and lower levels of general stress (β = −.59).

Conclusions

There are distinct predictors of change in PTG and subjective well-being among BC survivors, supporting the distinction between the trauma-specific process of PTG and well-being. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.