Disease disclosure patterns among breast cancer patients

Brent Henderson, Kathryn Davison, James Pennebaker, Robert Gatchel, Andrew Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Inhibition or disclosure of traumatic or stressful experiences may affect psychological and physical well-being. Although a diagnosis of cancer can be a source of considerable stress, the extent to which cancer patients disclose their cancer has not been previously documented. In the present study, 299 women with breast cancer reported how much and with whom they discussed their cancer in the month following their diagnosis, reported disclosure attitudes, and completed psychological measures. Seven percent reported little or no disclosure to anyone besides their spouse or doctor, while 20-30% reported little or no disclosure to entire subgroups of their social network (family, friends, and health professionals). Degree of disclosure was consistent across social targets. Greater disease disclosure was predicted by younger participant age, greater disease severity, optimism, stress-related growth, and disclosure-oriented attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2002


  • Cancer
  • Disclosure
  • Inhibition
  • Optimism
  • Secrecy
  • Stress-related growth


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