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Daily assessment of stressful events and coping among post-menopausal women with breast cancer treated with adjuvant chemotherapy

Authors

  • M. BROWALL mnsc, doctoral student,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Göteborg
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  • L.-O. PERSSON associate professor ,

    1. The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Göteborg
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  • K. AHLBERG rn, phd, senior lecturer,

    1. The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Göteborg, and Department of Oncology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Division of Selected Clinical Specialties, Göteborg
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  • P. KARLSSON md, associate professor,

    1. Department of Oncology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Division of Selected Clinical Specialties, Göteborg, and Department of Oncology, Southern Älvsborg Hospital, Borås,
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  • E. DANIELSON phd, professor

    1. The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Göteborg, and Department of Health Science, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
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Maria Browall, The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Box 457, SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden (e-mail: maria.browall@vgregion.se).

Abstract

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.

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