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Title page for ETD etd-05292007-132047


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Berlin, Kate L.
URN etd-05292007-132047
Title Psychological and Biological Stress During Mother-Daughter Communication About Breast Cancer Risk
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bruce Compas, Ph.D. Committee Chair
David Schlundt, Ph.D. Committee Member
Fiona Yull, Ph.D. Committee Member
Kathy Hoover-Dempsey, Ph.D. Committee Member
Sohee Park, Ph.D. Committee Member
Keywords
  • mother-daughter relationships
  • breast cancer
  • stress
  • cortisol
  • Communication in the family
  • Breast -- Cancer -- Risk factors
  • Stress (Psychology)
Date of Defense 2007-05-25
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Mothers and their adolescent and young adult daughters at risk for breast cancer may experience stress as a result of being at risk for the disease. The current study examined psychological and biological stress responses in mother-daughter dyads at varying levels of risk for breast cancer during an observed interaction task. The dyads engaged in a structured, 15-minute videotaped discussion about their risk for breast cancer. Additionally, participants completed questionnaires, clinical interviews, and five salivary measurements of stress hormone levels. Using an empirically-validated coding system, communication from the discussion was rated for levels of several behavioral and affective codes. Four hypotheses were tested examining the relationship between mothers’ communication and (a) daughters’ psychological symptoms, (b) daughters’ coping style, (c) daughters’ knowledge about breast cancer, and (d) daughters’ levels of stress hormones. Lastly, a path model and test for mediation were designed to examine the relationships between the above variables.

Results supported the hypotheses that certain types of negative maternal communication were related to (a) daughters’ psychological symptoms, (b) daughters’ coping style, and (d) daughters’ levels of stress hormones. No relationship was found between maternal communication and (c) daughters’ knowledge about breast cancer, or between positive maternal communication and daughters’ psychological and biological responses to the discussion. The path model and test for mediation could not be conducted because the data did not meet required statistical assumptions.

Implications of these findings are that certain types of negative maternal communication may affect the manner in which adolescent and young adult daughters respond to and cope with being at risk for breast cancer. Limitations of the current study are discussed and suggestions for future research are provided.

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