The distribution of repressive coping styles among non-metastatic and metastatic breast cancer patients as compared to non-cancer patients

David A. Goldstein, Michael H Antoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


Recent investigations have shown increased disease progression among breast cancer patients with a “repressive” coping style characterized as: passive, conforming, inclined to deny physical symptoms and emotionally unexpressive. The Millon Behavioral Health Inventory (MBHI) scales which delineate three discrete repressive coping styles include the: Introversive, Cooperative and Respectful. Forty-four women recently diagnosed (within four weeks) with non-metastatic (N = 32) or metastatic (N = 12) breast carcinoma, responded to the MBHI upon admission for treatment of their disease at a cancer treatment unit. All subjects received mastectomy as well as chemotherapy, radiation and/or endocrine therapy. These 44 cancer patients were compared to 34 control subjects, comprising women who were seen at a colposcopy clinic for follow-up of a suspicious pap smear which was ultimately shown to be benign or consisted of mild dysplasia. Non-metastatic, metastatic and control subjects were compared with respect to coping style and psychological distress. The breast cancer patients were more likely to employ a repressive coping style as compared to non-cancer patients who utilized a “sensitizing” coping strategy predominantly. Cancer patients with the most severe prognosis (metastasis) were the only group within the study to attain a clinically significant mean base rate score on the respectful scale. Results suggest that the incidence of repressive coping styles may be disproportionately high among breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-258
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 1989



  • breast cancer
  • MBHI psychological distress
  • metastasis
  • Repressive coping style

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Applied Psychology

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