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Cognitive adaptation theory and breast cancer recurrence: Are there limits?

journal contribution
posted on 01.10.2006 by Patricia L. Tomich, Vicki Helgeson

Relations of the components of cognitive adaptation theory (self-esteem, optimism, control) to quality of life and benefit finding were examined for 70 women (91% Caucasian) diagnosed with Stage I, II, or III breast cancer over 5 years ago. Half of these women experienced a recurrence within the 5 years; the other half remained disease free. Women were matched on age, race, stage of disease, and intervention condition. Baseline perceptions of personal control over illness, but not general self-esteem or optimism, were associated with women's reports of worse physical functioning, worse mental functioning, and less benefit finding 5 years later for recurrent women but not disease-free women. These findings highlight the notion that there may be boundary conditions on the adaptiveness of perceived control.