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Social support as a moderator in the relationship between intrusive thoughts and anxiety among Spanish-speaking Latinas with breast cancer.

  • Author(s): Escalera, Cristian;
  • Santoyo-Olsson, Jasmine;
  • Stewart, Anita L;
  • Ortiz, Carmen;
  • Nápoles, Anna Maria
  • et al.

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Intrusive thoughts, defined as unwanted and recurrent thoughts about a stressful experience, are associated with psychological distress in women with breast cancer. This study assessed moderating effects of various social support dimensions on associations between intrusive thoughts and psychological distress among Latina breast cancer survivors.


We used baseline data from a randomized controlled trial of a stress management intervention delivered to 151 Spanish-speaking Latinas with nonmetastatic breast cancer within 1 year of diagnosis. Intrusive thoughts, four dimensions of social support (emotional/informational, tangible, affectionate, and positive social interaction), and symptoms of anxiety and depression were assessed through in-person interviews. Information on age, time since diagnosis, breast cancer variables, history of depression, and marital status served as covariates. Generalized linear models were used to investigate bivariate and multivariate associations and to explore moderation effects of the four dimensions of social support.


In bivariate models, intrusive thoughts were associated positively with depression (β = .024, .001) and anxiety (β = .047, P < .001) symptoms. Adjusting for other factors, intrusive thoughts remained associated with depression symptoms (β = .022, .008), regardless of level of social support (for all support dimensions). For anxiety, there were significant interactions of tangible (β = -.013, .034) and affectionate (β = -.022, .005) support with intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts were associated more strongly with anxiety symptoms among women reporting less tangible and affectionate support than those with higher levels of these types of support.


Tangible and affectionate support have protective effects on anxiety symptoms among Spanish-speaking Latina breast cancer survivors experiencing intrusive thoughts, but not depression symptoms.

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