Hope, Self-Transcendence, Spirituality, and Positive/Negative Affect as Predictors of Quality of Life in Women with Breast Cancer
Cheri Nyegaard-Holbrook, MSW, Jackson State University and Safiya R. Omari, PhD, Jackson State University.
Breast cancer remains a major health concern for American women. By conservative estimates the incidence of breast cancer in the United States is increasing at the rate of 3% annually. Increases in early detection techniques as well as the increase in incidence point to the need for studies that examine quality of life issues for women diagnosed with breast cancer. The psychosocial impact of breast cancer is well documented and research has shown breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can cause physical, psychological, and sexual dysfunctions which can decrease the quality of a woman's life. The purpose of this research was to explore the effects of hope, self- transcendence, spirituality, and positive and negative affect on quality of life in women diagnosed with breast cancer. The sample consisted of 164 women recruited through outpatient radiation oncology treatment centers in Louisiana and Texas. Participants completed the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-being (FACIT-Sp), Herth Hope Index, PANAS Scales, Self-Transcendence Scale, and the demographics questionnaire. Using multiple regression analysis, potential predictors of quality of life for women with breast cancer were examined. Among the predictors considered were hope, self-transcendence, spirituality, positive affect and negative affect. Statistically significant positive relationships were found between quality of life and all three inner resource variables. A statistically significant positive relationship was found between positive affect and with quality of life. Negative affect was significantly inversely correlated with participant quality of life. Together, these variables representative of inner resources, personality traits, and demographic variables combined to have a large degree of relative importance or meaningfulness in explaining participant differences in their quality of life, accounting for 59% of the variance. With increasing diagnosis of breast cancer and increasing earlier detection that extends survivorship, it is reasonable to argue that the number of women seeking guidance from social workers to deal with the psychosocial issues related to the cancer experience also will increase. Evidence of a significant relationship between these variables and quality of life serve as a guide for more effective social work practice. The findings may assist social workers' development of effective interventions with breast cancer survivors and inform the types of services social workers must provide to women diagnosed with breast cancer in order to enhance their quality of life. Social work engages in an ongoing effort to define itself as a separate discipline with its own knowledge base; however, the majority of cancer-related literature is produced by other disciplines. Social workers must stay current with empirical research, and the research itself must be a sufficiently inclusive guide. This research adds to the social work knowledge base and expands our understanding regarding how variables such as hope, self-transcendence, spirituality, and positive and negative affect influence the quality of life in women with breast cancer.