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Psychological distress associated with waiting for results of diagnostic investigations for breast disease

Authors
Journal
The Breast
0960-9776
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
8
Issue
6
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1054/brst.1999.0085
Disciplines
  • Medicine
  • Psychology

Abstract

Abstract This paper presents the results of a multi-method research project investigating the psychological distress associated with waiting for results of diagnostic investigations in a delayed-results breast clinic. A cohort of 126 women completed standardized psychometric instruments to assess anxiety, mood and coping over 3 days. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 respondents. The findings indicate that waiting sustained but did not exacerbate psychological distress. Peri-diagnostic anxiety, depression, uncertainty and confusion were associated with anxiety levels immediately following triple assessment. Women leaving the clinic with low anxiety retained this composure throughout the peri-diagnostic period. Those in the moderate and high anxiety groups recorded sustained anxiety, depression, uncertainty and confusion, with mean scores comparable to and exceeding those reported by psychiatric out-patients. Coping during the waiting period was typically accomplished by emotion-focused strategies. Qualitative data suggested the delayed-results clinic structure may facilitate psychological preparation for test results.

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