Stress reactivity, distress and attachment in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients
Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
Research on psycho-oncology increased across literature during the last decades, pointing to links between biological, psychosocial and behavioural factors in cancer beginning and progression. This study aimed to characterize a sample of recently breast-cancer-diagnosed women, compared to a control group, regarding their stress reactivity at a psychological and autonomic levels, anger regulation and attachment styles. Eighty-seven females (52 breast cancer patients and 33 controls) respectively
... trols) respectively from Portuguese public hospitals and general population were recruited. They were assessed through psychometric measures (distress, attachment styles and anger regulation) and psychophysiological parameters of reactivity were collected. The breast cancer patients studied seem to be less anxious in their attachment patterns compared to healthy people, but they report significant distress while facing a threatening situation. This clinical group also shows lower psychophysiological reactivity, both at the baseline and confronted with different emotional eliciting stimuli. Self-directed anger was associated with the presence of anxious attachment schemes and strictly linked to the appraised distress. A predictive model suggests the impact of this pattern of anger management and an anxious attachment style in the emotional disturbance reported by these patients. Findings suggest that insecure attachment schemes, dysfunctional anger regulation strategies and a lack of psychophysiological activation may be discussed as relevant factors that modulate emotional distress associated with the diagnosis of breast cancer.