With over 200,000 new diagnoses in 2004, breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among women in the United States. Both the stress of treatment and the threat of a potentially lethal illness present significant challenges to an individual's emotional well-being and coping skills, yet paradoxically many women report benefits from dealing with this adversity. The aims of this investigation were to describe the characteristics of benefit finding as expressed by breast cancer survivors participating in an online breast cancer support group, and to assess the relationship between symptom distress, emotional well-being and benefit finding using baseline assessment measures. Qualitative content analysis and computerized text analysis were used to characterize the emotional, cognitive, and structural components present in online therapy transcripts. Correlational analysis was also used to identify both convergent and divergent characteristics of expressed benefit finding the context of an online support group and self-reported benefit finding using a structured assessment measure. With respect to the relationship between symptom distress, emotional well-being and benefit finding, self-reported benefit finding was found to have a mediating relationship between symptom distress and emotional quality of life, however expressed benefit finding did not share this relationship. This study suggests a potential difference between the benefits participants may endorse on a structured measure versus the opportunity to discuss benefits in an unstructured, somewhat social environment.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Owen, Jason

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2010

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Self-Help Groups;

Subject - Local

Online Support Groups; Breast Cancer



Page Count

54 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives