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Differences in Coping Among African American Women With Breast Cancer and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Crystal C. Watkins
Iye Kamara Kanu
Jill B. Hamilton
Sharon L. Kozachik
Fannie Gaston-Johansson
ONF 2017, 44(6), 689-702 DOI: 10.1188/17.ONF.689-702

Purpose/Objectives: To determine differences in psychological distress, symptoms, coping capacity, and coping abilities among African American (AA) women with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and non-TNBC and to explore differences in relationships among these variables.


Design: A prospective, descriptive, comparative, and correlational design.


Setting: Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.


Sample: 30 AA women with breast cancer.


Methods: Patients completed questionnaires during chemotherapy. The Transactional Model of Stress and Coping was used to guide the research.


Main Research Variables: Psychological distress, symptoms, coping capacity, and coping ability.


Findings: Patients with non-TNBC reported more intense present total pain, nausea and vomiting, better emotional functioning, lower cognitive functioning, use of significantly more prayer and hope, and more coping self-statements. A lower coping capacity score was associated with psychological distress in the TNBC group at midpoint and in both groups at completion of chemotherapy treatment. Patients in both groups used a higher level of positive religious coping.


Conclusions: AA women with TNBC and non-TNBC might benefit (reduced psychological distress and improved coping skills) from receiving a comprehensive psychological care program. The findings can be incorporated and tested in a comprehensive coping strategy program.


Implications for Nursing: Nurses should work closely with AA women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy to help them identify and consciously use coping strategies associated with increased coping capacity.

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