October 5, 1979

Psychological Coping Mechanisms and Survival Time in Metastatic Breast Cancer

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Drs Derogatis and Melisaratos) and the Oncology Center (Drs Derogatis and Abeloff), Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.

JAMA. 1979;242(14):1504-1508. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300140020016

Thirty-five women with metastatic breast cancer received a battery of baseline psychological tests; results were correlated with length of survival. Patients who died in less than one year from baseline were categorized as short-term survivors, while patients who lived for one year or longer were assigned to the long-term survivor group. The long-term survivors were more symptomatic overall, with particular elevations on measures of anxiety and alienation, and substantially higher levels of dysphoric mood (eg, depression, guilt) than the short-term survivors. Short-term survivors revealed significantly lower levels of hostility, with higher levels of positive mood. Treating oncologists perceived the long-term survivors to show significantly poorer adjustment to their illnesses than the short-term survivors, and an interviewer's ratings indicated that long-term survivors had significantly poorer attitudes toward their physicians. Measures of clinical status and demographic data revealed few differences between the two groups.

(JAMA 242:1504-1508, 1979)