Resilience can help breast cancer patients manage difficult symptoms 

Women being treated for breast cancer often contend with symptoms that decrease their quality of life, such as pain and fatigue. Researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago College of Nursing, along with colleagues in Taiwan, studied how resilience can help patients improve their quality of life while dealing with these symptoms.  

They found that patients who had more resilience were able to maintain a higher quality of life. The research, “Examining the Role of Resilience, Posttraumatic Growth, and Quality of Life in Women with Breast Cancer: A Serial Multiple Mediator Model Approach,” is published in Seminars in Oncology Nursing. 

The researchers define resilience “as a learning process by which an individual sustains well-being in the face of adversity, such as cancer, by using internal, external and existential resources.”   

The researchers sent surveys to 400 breast cancer survivors in Taiwan, 91 of whom completed the survey. The survey included questions on quality of life, symptom distress and resilience. They found that women who reported being more resilient were more likely to have experienced less severe symptoms and have a better quality of life. 

“Resilience is more than just an inherent trait; it is a skill individuals can cultivate and benefit from, especially during their cancer journey,” explained UIC post-doctoral fellow Li-Ting Longcoy, an author of the study.  

The researchers, which include UIC professor Ardith Doorenbos, explain how oncology nurses can use this information to help breast cancer patients who are experiencing distressing symptoms. 

They write: “Nurses can help them identify their internal, external and existential resources; this may in turn serve as a protective factor to help them cope with distressing symptoms.” 


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