University of Leicester
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Illness representations, coping and locus of control in breast cancer : a comparative study amongst South Asian Indian women and white indigenous women

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:46 authored by Rebecca. Martyn
This study investigated illness representations for breast cancer amongst a lay population of South Asian and White indigenous women. A comparative correlational design was used to examine illness representations, coping styles and health locus of control in relation to breast cancer. In addition subjects provided information on the levels of breast cancer awareness, levels of early detection behaviour and knowledge of risk factors and treatment. Relationships between the different components of illness representations and their associations with coping, locus of control and level of breast-self examination were explored. The sample comprised 17 South Asian women and 18 White indigenous women. No significant differences were found between groups on level of breast awareness or early detection behaviours. Illness representations for both groups were found to be high on identity, and moderately high on consequence, time-line, cure/control and on risk/treatment. Significant associations were identified for higher scores on cure/control and risk/treatment scales with lower scores on denial, acceptance and venting of emotion coping for the South Asian group. There was a significant correlation between cure/control and level of breast self-examination for the White group. Moderately high scores on cure/control and risk/treatment are encouraging and are tentatively linked to less passive coping styles and higher levels of breast self-examination. Overall, there was a high level of similarity on the measure, and in early detection behaviours for the groups. These similarities may reflect the particular nature of this group of South Asian women. Implications of these findings are that health interventions should focus on raising knowledge for risk factors and treatment, and increasing beliefs in cure and control. Further investigation of illness representations for breast cancer amongst South Asian groups is needed. Age, socio-economic status and degree of acculturation are factors that may be particularly relevant in relation to early detection behaviour and coping styles.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Clinical Psychology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



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