Biased cognitive processing of cancer-related information among women with family histories of breast cancer: Evidence from a cancer stroop task

Joel Erblich*, Guy H. Montgomery, Heiddis B. Valdimarsdottir, Maylene Cloitre, Dana H. Bovbjerg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Stimuli associated with sources of stress have been shown to interfere with cognition. The authors hypothesized that women with the stress of having a family history of breast cancer (FH+) would exhibit greater interference on a task with cancer-related stimuli than women without cancer in the family (FH-). The authors developed a modified Stroop color-naming task to test this hypothesis in a sample of FH+ (n = 72) and FH- (n = 96) women. Consistent with the hypotheses, FH+ women had longer color-naming times and more errors (ps < .01) on a cancer word list relative to noncancer lists. This biased processing was not mediated by the significantly higher perceived risk, general distress, or cancer-specific distress in FH+ women. Maladaptive alterations in processing cancer stimuli may have important clinical implications, as these women must process complex cancer-related information critical to their health (e.g., options for chemoprevention, screening).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-244
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2003

Other keywords

  • Breast cancer
  • Cognitive bias
  • Family history
  • Psychological distress
  • Stroop

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