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The Sequelae of Anxiety in Breast Cancer: A Human Response to Illness Model

Allison E. Pedersen
Jo-Ann Sawatzky
Thomas F. Hack
ONF 2010, 37(4), 469-475 DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.469-475

Purpose/Objectives: To provide a critical review of the empirical literature on anxiety in women with breast cancer using the physiologic, pathophysiologic, behavior, and experiential perspectives of the Human Response to Illness (HRTI) Model.

Data Sources: Research articles, clinical articles, and Internet sources on breast cancer and anxiety. Literature sources included CINAHL®, PubMed, and PsycINFO, incorporating English language reports through March 2009.

Data Synthesis: Patients with breast cancer experience fluctuating levels of anxiety throughout their diagnosis and treatment trajectory. Anxiety may influence an individual's response to treatment, treatment decision making, and overall quality of life.

Conclusions: Research consistently demonstrates that anxiety in patients with breast cancer can have a negative effect on patient outcomes.

Implications for Nursing: The insight gained from exploring anxiety within the context of the four interrelated perspectives of the HRTI model fosters the provision of optimal care for patients suffering with anxiety throughout their breast cancer illness trajectory.

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