Psychobiological Factors Predicting the Course of Breast Cancer


  • This article is based on a dissertation submitted to the Graduate School of Yale University The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Professor Jerome L Singer, thesis sponsor, and the members of the committee (Professors Irving Janis, Gary Schwartz, Faye Crosby and Dr Bernard Siegel) The author is indebted also to Drs Leonard Farber, Arthur Levy, Samuel Bobrow and Bruce Lundberg and to Patricia Kono and Marsha Eager who assisted in the review of patients' medical files, to Jacqueline Hawkins and Dr Jonathan Cohn who staged patients, to William Polonsky who assisted with the data collection, and to Barbara Conway who assisted with the data analysis Part of the literature search was funded by a grant from the John D and Catherine T Mac Arthur Foundation Health and Behavior Network

Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr Mogens R Jensen, Department of Psychology, Yale University, PO Box 11-A Yale Station, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-7447


ABSTRACT Drawing on a carefully controlled sample of 52 women with a history of breast carcinoma and 34 healthy controls, this prospective study examined empirical associations between psychological factors and the progression of neoplastic disorders over a follow-up period averaging 624 days Psychological variables were psychometrically assessed by self-report measures A multiple regression analysis which controlled for disease stage at original diagnosis, age, total length of disease course, hematological factors, and blood chemistries measured at study onset showed neoplastic spread to be associated with a repressive personality style, reduced expression of negative affect, helplessness-hopelessness, chronic stress, and comforting daydreaming The identified model of medical and psychological variables accounted for 56% of the observed variance A psychobiological model of brain-body deregulation provided the best account of the observed associations between psychological functioning and the progression of disease Future research is necessary to examine the role which psychological functioning may exert upon health-relevant behaviors that might blunt the benefits of professional health care