Fear of cancer recurrence and psychological well-being in women with breast cancer: the role of causal cancer attributions and optimism Academic Article uri icon


  • This study aims to examine the association between cancer causal attributions, fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) and psychological well-being and the possible moderating effect of optimism among women with a previous diagnosis of breast cancer. Participants (N = 314) completed an online self-report assessment of causal attributions for their own breast cancer, FCR, psychological well-being and optimism. Simultaneous multiple regression analyses were conducted to explore the overall contribution of causal attributions to FCR and psychological well-being separately. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were also utilised to examine the potential moderating influence of dispositional optimism on the relationship between causal attributions and FCR and psychological well-being. Causal attributions of environmental exposures, family history and stress were significantly associated with higher FCR. The attribution of stress was also significantly associated with lower psychological well-being. Optimism did not moderate the relationship between causal attributions and FCR or well-being. The observed relationships between causal attributions for breast cancer and FCR and psychological well-being suggest that the inclusion of causal attributions in screening for FCR is potentially important. Health professionals may need to provide greater psychological support to women who attribute their cancer to non-modifiable causes and consequently continue to experience distress.

publication date

  • 2018