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Body Image and Its Predictors in Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Surgery

Chen, Chun-Lan BS, RN; Liao, Mei-Nan PhD, RN; Chen, Shu-Ching PhD, RN; Chan, Pei-Ling BS, RN; Chen, Shin-Cheh MD

Cancer Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3182336f8b
Articles: Online Only

Background: Negative body image may reduce patients’ ability to cope with breast cancer after surgery.

Objectives: The purposes of this study were to (1) assess breast cancer patients’ perceived level of symptom distress, anxiety, depression, disease impact, and body image and (2) evaluate factors associated with body image in breast cancer patients during the postoperative period.

Methods: A cross-sectional and correlational design was used to collect data for this study, conducted in northern Taiwan. A set of questionnaires was used to measure body image, symptom distress, anxiety, depression, psychological impact of disease, and demographic and disease-related information. Stepwise regression was conducted to determine significant factors related to body image.

Results: Surgical procedure and age were found to be important factors related to body image concerns. Patient receipt of mastectomy and younger age were associated with greater body image concerns.

Conclusion: The average age of breast cancer patients is declining in Taiwan, and body image problems in these patients are growing. Several factors are significantly related to body image distress among these patients.

Implications for Practice: By understanding variables associated with breast cancer patients’ body image, health professionals can coordinate interventions to improve these women’s body image. Among women with breast cancer, those who have received mastectomy and those who are younger are particularly vulnerable to body image concerns. Nursing assessment of body image indicators and implementation of strategies to increase self-confidence and self-acceptance are needed for high-risk women.

Author Information

Author Affiliations: Department of Nursing, Chang Gung Medical Foundation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at LinKou (Ms Chun-Lan Chen, Dr Shu-Ching Chen, and Ms Chan), Administration Center of Medical Research Department, Chang Gung Medical Foundation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Taoyuan, and Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University (Dr Liao), Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Taoyuan, Taiwan (Drs Shu-Ching Chen and Liao); and Department of General Surgery, Chang Gung Medical Foundation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Taipei, and College of Medicine, Chang Gung University,Taoyuan, Taiwan (Dr Shin-Cheh Chen).

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Shu-Ching Chen, PhD, RN, Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, 261 Wen-Hua 1st Road, Kweishan, Taoyuan 333, Taiwan (

Accepted for publication August 18, 2011.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.