Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management for Healthy Women at Risk for Breast Cancer: a Novel Application of a Proven Intervention

Ann Behav Med. 2015 Dec;49(6):873-84. doi: 10.1007/s12160-015-9726-z.


Background: Women at risk for breast cancer report elevated psychological distress, which has been adversely associated with cancer-relevant behaviors and biology.

Purpose: The present study sought to examine the effects of a 10-week cognitive behavioral stress management (CBSM) group intervention on distress among women with a family history of breast cancer.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to CBSM (N = 82) or a wait-list comparison group (N = 76). Baseline to postintervention effects of CBSM on depressive symptoms and perceived stress were examined using hierarchical regression.

Results: CBSM participants reported significantly lower posttreatment depressive symptoms (β = -0.17, p < 0.05) and perceived stress (β = -0.23, p < 0.05) than wait-list comparison participants. Additionally, greater relaxation practice predicted lower distress.

Conclusions: Group-based CBSM intervention is feasible and can reduce psychological distress among women with a family history of breast cancer. The present findings represent an encouraging avenue for the future application of CBSM. ( number NCT00121160).

Keywords: Breast neoplasms risk; Cognitive behavioral stress management; Distress; Female; Group psychotherapy; Relaxation practice.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Women's Health

Associated data