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Breast cancer (BC) can be a traumatic and stressful experience for women, but there are wide-ranging differences in the ways in which women respond and adapt to BC. This systematic review examines which sociodemographic, disease-related, and psychosocial factors near diagnosis predict later psychological adjustment to BC.
Database searches were conducted in 9 different health-related databases from 2000 to December 2015 using relevant search terms. Full-text, peer-reviewed articles in English that analyzed potential predictors of psychological adjustment in longitudinal studies were considered for inclusion.
Of 1780 abstracts, 41 studies fulfilled inclusion criteria. Consistent sociodemographic and disease-related variable predictors of adjustment were income, fatigue, cancer stage, and physical functioning. Psychosocial factors, particularly optimism and trait anxiety, as well as perceived social support, coping strategies, and initial levels of psychological functioning, were found to be predictive of later depressive and anxiety symptoms, psychological distress, and quality of life for women with BC, in predictable ways. Other psychosocial variables, such as cognitive and body image factors, predicted psychological adjustment but were explored only by a few studies.
The majority of studies showed a significant relationship between psychosocial factors and psychological adjustment. These results point to specific sociodemographic, disease-related, and psychosocial factors that can help to identify women at the time of diagnosis who are at risk for long-term psychological challenges so they can be referred for psychological support that targets their specific needs and can improve their quality of life and mood and decrease indicators of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress.
Brandão, Schulz, and Matos 2017. "Psychological adjustment after breast cancer: a systematic review of longitudinal studies." Psycho-Oncology 26.7: 917-926.