Coping with breast cancer: a meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2014 Nov 25;9(11):e112733. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112733. eCollection 2014.


Objective: The primary aim of this study was to examine the associations between different types of coping and psychological well-being and physical health among women with breast cancer. A second aim was to explore the potential moderating influences of situational and measurement factors on the associations between coping and psychological well-being and physical health.

Methods: On 14 February 2011, a literature search was made for articles published in the PubMed and PsycINFO databases before January 2010. On 5 September 2013, a repeated literature search was made for articles published before May 2013. In the final analyses, 78 studies with 11 948 participants were included.

Results: Efforts to facilitate adaptation to stress, such as Acceptance and Positive Reappraisal, were related to higher well-being and health. Disengagement and avoidance types of coping were associated with lower well-being and health. The analyses indicated that, in several circumstances, coping effectiveness was dependent on cancer stage, treatment, disease duration, and type of coping measure.

Conclusions: Use of coping targeting adjustment and avoiding use of disengagement forms of coping were related to better psychological well-being and physical health. Adaptive strategies and avoiding disengagement forms of coping seemed particularly beneficial for women undergoing treatment.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged

Grant support

This work was supported by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research under Grant nr: 2006-0069; Center for Health Care Science at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden under Grant nr: 2008-4737. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.