Background: Social comparisons (SCs) are common among cancer patients, but their prospective associations are not well understood. This study examined concurrent and prospective relationships of SCs with health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and depressive symptoms during the first year of breast cancer treatment. Methods: Nonmetastatic breast cancer patients (N = 240) enrolled in a larger intervention trial reported on the frequencies of SCs postsurgery (T1) and 6 months later (T2). HRQOL and depressive symptoms were assessed at T1, T2, and 12 months after T1 (T3). Path analysis via structural equation modeling was used to assess three models relating SCs to HRQOL and depressive symptoms from T1-T2, T1-T3, and T2-T3, controlling for stage of disease, intervention condition, and dispositional optimism. Results: Upward contrast SCs were associated with poorer concurrent HRQOL at T1 and T2, and with more concurrent depressive symptoms at T2. However, upward contrast SC at T1 predicted better T2 and T3 HRQOL. Upward identification SC at T1 predicted more T2 depressive symptoms, and at T2 was associated with poorer concurrent HRQOL and more concurrent depressive symptoms. Downward identification SCs at T1 were associated with poorer concurrent HRQOL. Downward identification SCs at T2 predicted poorer T3 HRQOL. Conclusions: Upward SCs were related to compromised concurrent psychosocial well-being, but prospective effects varied by the interpretation of the comparison (ie, contrast vs identification). Findings have implications for the development and deployment of group-based psychosocial interventions during the early phases of survivorship, during which opportunities for SC are prevalent.
- breast cancer
- depressive symptoms
- health-related quality of life
- social comparison
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health