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Personality impacts surgical outcomes

Article-Personality impacts surgical outcomes

Turin, Italy — Results of a new study suggest that certain personality traits are linked to higher quality-of-life scores in breast cancer patients who have undergone post-mastectomy breast reconstruction, reports.

Researchers at the University of Turin administered psychological tests to 57 breast cancer patients who had undergone mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction. The goal was to determine how various personality dimensions and patterns of interpersonal functioning affected post-surgery quality of life.

After adjustment for other factors, two personality types were linked to higher quality-of-life scores. One was the temperamental characteristic of “harm avoidance,” which the researchers characterize as “apprehensive and doubtful.” For these patients, they write, “Restoration of body image could help ... reduce social anxiety and insecurity.”

Patients who tested as “vindictive/self-centered” also had higher quality-of-life scores. For these patients, write the authors, “Breast reconstruction could symbolize the conclusion of a reparative process and fulfill the desire of revenge on cancer.”

None of the other factors evaluated — including the characteristics of the cancer and its treatment — were significantly related to quality-of-life scores. Overall, mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction yielded significant improvement in quality of life.

The results suggest that some personality characteristics have an important impact on psychological recovery after breast cancer treatment. Thus, the researchers wrote, “A preoperative personality assessment of patients requiring breast reconstruction will be useful to identify predictive factors of better subjective quality of life after surgery.”

Such an assessment could help identify women who might benefit from post-reconstruction psychotherapy.

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