The moderating effect of perceived partner empathy on body image and depression among breast cancer survivors

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Abstract

Purpose:

The aims of the study were the following: (1) to understand the relationship between women's perceptions of empathy from their partners and their depressive symptoms and body image and (2) to examine the moderating effects of women's perceptions of empathy from their partners on the relationship between body image and depressive symptoms.

Methods:

A cross-sectional and correlational design was used, in which a convenience sample of 151 women who completed surgery and the necessary chemotherapy/radiotherapy were recruited from southern Taiwan. A structured questionnaire including the Other Dyadic Perspective-Taking Scale, the Body Image Scale, and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale were administered. Hierarchical regression was used to examine the moderating effects of empathy from partners between the women's body image and their level of depressive symptoms.

Results:

The results showed significant relationships between empathy from a partner and depressive symptoms (p< 0.001). However, there was no significant relationship between empathy from a partner and body image (p> 0.05). The moderating effect of empathy from a partner on the relationship between body image and depressive symptoms was also significant (p< 0.01).

Conclusion:

The more empathy women perceived from partners, the fewer depressive symptoms women reported. Empathy from a partner could moderate the impact of body image changes on depressive symptoms. Women's depressive symptoms, resulting from a change in body image after breast cancer surgery, might be minimized if they perceived greater empathy from their partners. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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