The impact of a brief problem-solving training intervention for relatives of recently diagnosed breast cancer patients

Marc D. Schwartz, Caryn Lerman, Janet Audrain, David Cella, Barbara Rimer, Michael Stefanek, Judy Garber, Ting Hsiang Lin, Victor Vogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Previous studies have found high levels of psychological distress in women who have a family history of breast cancer. We evaluated a brief Problem-Solving Training (PST) intervention designed to reduce distress among women with a first-degree relative recently diagnosed with this disease. Participants were randomly assigned to either the PST group (N = 144) or a General Health Counseling (GHC) control group (N = 197). At baseline, these groups did not differ on any sociodemographic, risk factor, Or psychological distress variables. We evaluated the impact of PST, relative to GHC, at the three-month follow-up assessment using a 2 (treatment group) x 2 (time of assessment) mixed factor analysis of variance (ANOVA). Although there were significant decreases in both cancer-specific and general distress in both the PST and GHC groups, the magnitude of these decreases did not differ. However, when PST participants were divided into those who regularly practiced the PST techniques and those who did not, significant differences emerged. Participants who regularly practiced the PST techniques had significantly greater decreases in cancer-specific distress [Impact of Event Scale (IEs) intrusion and avoidance subscales] compared to infrequent practicers and GHC participants. Effects on general distress were not found. Additional studies are needed to identify ways to promote the practice of PST techniques and to evaluate other psychosocial interventions for female relatives of breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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