Characteristics of psychological resilience and body image in women in the early and late periods after mastectomy
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Submission date: 2018-05-22
Final revision date: 2018-09-28
Acceptance date: 2018-09-29
Online publication date: 2018-11-27
Publication date: 2018-11-27
Health Psychology Report 2019;7(1):32-47
European statistics confirm a rise in breast cancer among women. Those suffering from breast cancer and undergoing mastectomy are undoubtedly experiencing a range of negative and/or positive emotions, thoughts and behaviours that depend on many factors such as psychological resilience. The study reported here aimed to identify factors that protect body image resilience in women suffering from breast cancer after mastectomy.

Participants and procedure:
The research group comprised 120 women after either a short (up to 2 years) or a long (over 2 years) time since mastectomy. Three scales were applied, namely the Resilience Measurement Scale (SPP-25) developed by Juczyński and Ogińska-Bulik to measure the variability of psychological resilience, the Body Attitude Test (BAT) developed by Probst, and others (Polish version by Brytek-Matera), and Probst’s Body Self Questionnaire developed by Mirucka for the measurement of the body image.

Post-mastectomy patients proved to have a significantly poorer self-assessment of the body, more restrictive eating behaviours and weight control employed with the aim to improve their appearance. Women just after mastectomy, seemed more focused on mobilising their resources necessary to adapt to new conditions and to restore balance after the difficult experience compared to women who had undergone mastectomy over 2 years before the study. The former are characterised by a higher degree of psychological resilience, higher perseverance and determination in action. They also better cope with experienced failure and negative emotions, which indicates that they have a greater capacity to detach from difficult situations.

The greater mobilisation of resources necessary to adapt to new conditions and to restore balance after a difficult experience require consideration and application of psychological support from the very beginning of treatment. For this reason, psychological counselling and work on strengthening resilience among women after mastectomy are indicated.

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