Background: Although self-efficacy is considered a key psychological resource in adapting to chronic physical illness, this construct has received less attention among individuals coping with cancer.
Purpose: To examine changes in cancer self-efficacy over time among women with early stage breast cancer and associations between task-specific domains of self-efficacy and specific psychological, relationship, and functional outcomes.
Methods: Ninety-five women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer completed surveys postsurgery and 1 year later.
Results: Cancer-related self-efficacy was relatively stable over 1 year, with only 2 domains of efficacy-(a) Activity Management and (b) Self-Satisfaction-evidencing significant increases over the 1-year time period. Cross-sectional findings were relatively consistent with predictions and suggested that specific domains of self-efficacy were more strongly related to relevant domains of adaptation. Longitudinal findings were not as consistent with the domain-specificity hypothesis but did suggest several predictive associations between self-efficacy and outcomes. Personal Management self-efficacy was associated with higher relationship satisfaction, higher Communication Self-Efficacy was associated with less functional impairment, and higher Affective Management self-efficacy was associated with higher self-esteem 1 year later.
Conclusions: Specific domains of cancer-related self-efficacy are most closely related to relevant areas of adaptation when considered cross-sectionally, but further study is needed to clarify the nature of these relationships over time.