Optimism, social support, and adjustment in African American women with breast cancer

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Past studies show that optimism and social support are associated with better adjustment following breast cancer treatment. Most studies have examined these relationships in predominantly non-Hispanic White samples. The present study included 77 African American women treated for nonmetastatic breast cancer. Women completed measures of optimism, social support, and adjustment within 10-months of surgical treatment. In contrast to past studies, social support did not mediate the relationship between optimism and adjustment in this sample. Instead, social support was a moderator of the optimism-adjustment relationship, as it buffered the negative impact of low optimism on psychological distress, well-being, and psychosocial functioning. Women with high levels of social support experienced better adjustment even when optimism was low. In contrast, among women with high levels of optimism, increasing social support did not provide an added benefit. These data suggest that perceived social support is an important resource for women with low optimism.

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