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Keywords:

  • stressful events;
  • coping;
  • coping strategies;
  • breast cancer;
  • post-menopausal women

The purpose of the study was twofold: to examine what type of daily stressful events post-menopausal woman with breast cancer experience during adjuvant chemotherapy and how bothersome these are and to identify coping strategies used by these women used to manage such stressful events. The patient group comprised 75 consecutively invited women (≥55 years of age) at two university hospitals and one county hospital in Sweden. The Daily Coping Assessment was used to collect data over time. Data were analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Six categories of stressful events were identified: ‘nausea and vomiting’, ‘fatigue’, ‘other symptoms’, ‘isolation and alienation’, ‘fear of the unknown’ and ‘being controlled by the treatment’. The first three categories were subsumed under the domain physical problems and the latter three under psychosocial problems. Almost 30% of the diary entries recorded no stressful event. Physical problems were three times as frequent as psychosocial problems. ‘Nausea/vomiting’ was the most frequently observed stressful event (21.6%). ‘Isolation and alienation’ and ‘fear of the unknown’ were less frequent, but when they occurred they were rated as the most distressing. Several coping strategies were used to manage each stressful event. The most common strategies were acceptance, relaxation and distraction. Religion was rarely used as a coping strategy.