Psychosocial factors and the development of breast cancer: A meta- analysis

Molly C. McKenna, Michael A. Zevon, Barbara Corn, James Rounds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A meta-analysis examined the relationship between psychosocial factors and the development of breast cancer. Average effect sizes (Hedges's g) were calculated from 46 studies for 8 major construct categories: anxiety/depression, childhood family environment, conflict-avoidant personality, denial/repression coping, anger expression, extraversion- introversion, stressful life events, and separation/loss. Significant effect sizes were found for denial/repression coping (g = .38), separation/loss experiences (g = .29), and stressful life events (g = .25). Although conflict-avoidant personality style was also significant (g = .19), the effect size was less robust, and a moderate number of future studies with null results would reduce the significance. Results overall support only a modest association between specific psychosocial factors and breast cancer and are contrary to the conventional wisdom that personality and stress influence the development of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-531
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Meta-analysis
  • Psychosocial factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • General Psychology


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