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01-03-2011 | Uitgave 2/2011

Quality of Life Research 2/2011

Comparison of Arab breast cancer survivors and healthy controls for spousal relationship, body image, and emotional distress

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 2/2011
Miri Cohen, Ahlam Abdallah Mabjish, Jamal Zidan



Cultural perceptions and norms affect individuals’ psychological reactions to cancer and quality of life, but very few studies have assessed reactions to breast cancer in specific cultural groups. Such assessments are especially rare for Arab women with breast cancer.


To assess the effect of spousal support, sharing household tasks, and body image in relation to emotional distress in Arab breast cancer survivors compared with matched healthy controls.


Fifty-six Israeli Arab breast cancer survivors (stages I–III), and 66 age- and education-matched women answered Brief Symptoms Inventory-18, Perceived Body Image, Perceived Spousal Support and Division of Household Labor scale questionnaires.


Breast cancer patients experienced higher psychological distress, especially anxiety and somatization. They reported receiving more support from their spouses and higher sharing of household tasks than did matched healthy controls, but were not different regarding body image. Twenty-eight percent of the variance of psychological distress was explained, with group, perceived support, and group × body image interaction. Thus, higher psychological distress was more likely to occur in participants receiving lower support and in breast cancer survivors with lower body image.


The study described the effects of breast cancer on Arab women compared to healthy women. It highlights the need for culture-sensitive care for Arab breast cancer patients, as well as other patients from minority groups residing in other Western countries.

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