Understanding the roles of patient symptoms and subjective appraisals in well-being among breast cancer patients


Purpose: To examine the roles of both patient symptoms, and subjective appraisals of stress (self-efficacy, symptom barriers, symptom distress), in understanding well-being (anxiety, depression, cancer-specific quality of life, mental health quality of life, and physical health quality of life) in breast cancer patients.

Methods: We examined data from 104 female breast cancer patients. Using a stress process model, we hypothesized that while high levels of patient symptoms would be associated with poorer patient well-being, these effects would be mediated by subjective appraisals, including patient self-efficacy, perceived symptom barriers, and symptom distress.

Results: As expected, higher levels of patient symptoms were associated with poorer well-being on all five indicators. Subjective appraisals of stress added significantly to predictors of well-being, and were mediators of this relationship across all five outcomes.

Conclusions: While patient symptoms are important predictors of patient well-being, subjective appraisals of the stressfulness of symptoms, and of patients’ self-efficacy in managing symptoms, are also key factors. The findings suggest the utility of a stress process model in understanding well-being in breast cancer patients, and point to the potential value of targeting patient appraisals as well as symptoms to improve psychological well-being and quality of life.

Document Type





Breast cancer, Cancer symptoms, Oncology, Psychological distress, Stress appraisal, Well-being

Publication Date


Journal Title

Supportive Care in Cancer