Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Sarah Hodgson; Jayesh Kamath

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Despite great strides that have been made over the past several decades in terms of diagnosis and treatment, breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women and the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality for women in the United States. Although the benefits of early detection of breast cancer have been clearly established, the advantages of screening must also be weighed against a potential corresponding negative psychological impact of screening procedures. The purpose of the present study was to further investigate the impact of breast cancer screening on previously unstudied or understudied aspects of psychological and physiological health, including sleep quality, negative and positive affect, and biomarkers of immune system response and to explore between-group differences in these markers based on diagnostic status over the course of time between surgical consult and diagnosis following breast biopsy. Results indicated substantially impaired sleep quality as well as elevations in negative affect across the study sample. Higher levels of a biological marker of inflammation were shown to be associated with poorer sleep quality. Positive and negative affect were also associated in the study sample, which is thought to be indicative of a high level of emotional activation during breast cancer screening and diagnosis. Counter to study hypotheses, results indicated neither improvements in sleep quality or affect nor decreased levels of serum cytokines were noted in women who received a benign diagnosis. Conversely, results for several scales indicated improved sleep quality for women diagnosed with breast cancer relative to women who received a benign diagnosis, providing support for the argument that it is the experience of uncertainty that leads to the acute psychological distress consistently shown in women undergoing breast cancer screening and breast biopsy.

Major Advisor

Dean Cruess