The impact of a brief coping skills intervention on adherence to breast self-examination among first-degree relatives of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients

Janet Audrain, Barbara Rimer, David Cella, Michael Stefanek, Judy Garber, Marie Pennanen, Kathy Helzlsouer, Victor Vogel, Ting Hsiang Lin, Caryn Lerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations


The present investigation sought to determine (1) the impact of a single session stress management/coping intervention (problem-solving training; PST) versus a general health counseling (GHC) control condition on breast self- examination (BSE) adherence among relatives of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, and (2) whether women with heightened perceived risk of breast cancer and/or cancer specific distress at baseline were more likely to improve their BSE adherence following PST. The participants were 510 women age 20-75 who had at least one first-degree relative with breast cancer. All of the participants completed a baseline telephone interview, an intervention (PST versus GHC), and a 3-month follow-up telephone interview. The results revealed a 36% overall improvement in BSE adherence, with no significant between-group difference in improvement (χ2 = 0.03, p = 0.87). The logistic regression analysis of improvement in BSE adherence revealed a statistically significant cancer-specific distress by treatment interaction (p = 0.04). Among women who received PST, those with high levels of cancer-specific distress were two times more likely to improve in BSE adherence than women low in cancer-specific distress. There was no effect of cancer-specific distress in the control condition. These results suggest that women with a family history of breast cancer who have high levels of distress may be most likely to benefit from behavioral coping skills intervention to promote adherence to breast cancer screening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-229
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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