Self-Blame and Distress Among Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer

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This study examined relations between behavioral and characterological self-blame attributions for breast cancer and psychological distress in the year following a diagnosis. One hundred fifteen women with newly diagnosed breast cancer participated. First, we predicted that both forms of self-blame would be associated with distress shortly after diagnosis (i.e., at 4 months). Second, we predicted that only characterological self-blame would be related to distress at 7 and 12 months post-diagnosis because behavioral self-blame would enhance perceptions of control, thereby protecting against distress. Results supported the first hypothesis; both forms of self-blame were related to symptoms of anxiety and depression at 4 months post-diagnosis. Findings did not support the second hypothesis because both forms of self-blame continued to be related to distress at 7 and 12 months post-diagnosis. Furthermore, perceptions of control did not mediate the self-blame/distress relation. Implications for social cognitive processes in adaptation to breast cancer are discussed.

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