Psychol Health Med. 2013 Nov 26. [Epub ahead of print]
Preliminary report of the relationship between experience of death of a relative, illness perception, and psychological outcome among BRCA carriers.
Sourcea Department of Psychology , Bar-Ilan University , Ramat Gan , Israel.
With recent advances in mapping the genetic mutations involved in breast cancer and the availability of genetic testing, it has become necessary to explore the psychological consequences of women who have tested positive for the gene mutations involved in breast cancer (BReast CAncer gene one and two, BRCA1/2). Findings regarding psychological consequences of positive results in genetic testing for breast cancer are ambiguous and insufficient. The aim of the current study was to explore the relationship between experience of the death of a relative due to breast cancer, perception of the illness, distress, and well-being among BRCA1/2 mutation women carriers. Forty asymptomatic carriers who attended BRCA1/2 clinics in Israel completed self-administered questionnaires assessing socio-demographic variables, illness perception, and well-being. It was found that experiencing the death of a relative as a result of breast cancer was significantly correlated with illness perception. Carriers who experienced the death of a relative perceived breast cancer as having a stronger identity (i.e. as having severe symptoms), dire consequences, and as being uncontrollable in comparison to carriers who had not experienced the death of a relative. Nevertheless, psychological distress and well-being were not found to be significantly correlated to either an experience of death of a relative as a result of breast cancer or to illness perception. Implications and limitations are discussed in light of these findings. Among these is the need to consider the illness perception of healthy BRCA carriers women.
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