Relationship and distress in relatives of breast cancer patients

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Breast Neoplasms; Family; Stress, Psychological


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Neoplasms | Preventive Medicine


This study examines the association of relationship factors with distress among first-degree female relatives (FDFRs; n = 540) of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients (n = 306). Cancer factors (receiving chemotherapy, positive nodes) and relationship factors (more contact, greater emotional closeness, and being told the diagnosis by the patient) were related to greater perceived impact of the cancer on the patient. Several of these factors, as well as FDFR factors (younger age, minority status, higher risk perception) and relationship factors (being the mother or daughter of the patient), were significantly related to the FDFR's cancer-specific distress, general distress, or both. Notably, the FDFR's own social support was associated with both cancer-specific and general distress. Appreciating the impact of a relative's cancer on FDFRs and offering guidance and support via patient-centered counseling can enhance quality of care. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

DOI of Published Version



Zapka, Jane; Fisher, Gene; Lemon, Stephenie; Clemow, Lynn; Fletcher, Kenneth. Relationship and distress in relatives of breast cancer patients. Families, Systems, & Health, Vol 24(2), Sum 2006, 198-212. doi: 10.1037/1091-7527.24.2.198

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Families, Systems, and Health