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

Crystal C. Watkins, MD, PhD; Iye Kamara Kanu, RN, BS, BSN; Jill B. Hamilton, PhD, RN, FAAN; Sharon L. Kozachik, PhD, RN, FAAN; Fannie Gaston-Johansson, PhD, RN, FAAN


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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