Dispositional Emotional Expressivity, Cancer-Specific Coping, and Distress in Socioeconomically-Disadvantaged Latinas

Patricia I. Moreno, Margaret R. Bauer, Betina Yanez, Alexandra Jorge, Melinda Maggard-Gibbons, Annette L. Stanton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Coping processes directed toward avoiding and approaching stressor-related thoughts and emotions predict psychological adjustment. However, few studies have examined how the relationship between dispositional emotional tendencies and stressor-specific coping affects outcomes. The aim of the current study was to examine the association of dispositional emotional expressivity (i.e., the propensity to experience and express emotions strongly) with cancer-specific coping through avoidance and emotional approach to predict intrusive thoughts and depressive symptoms in Latinas with breast cancer. Method: Recently diagnosed Latina breast cancer patients receiving treatment completed standardized assessments via interview at 2 time points: within 18 months of diagnosis (Time 1; N = 95) and 3 months later (Time 2; N = 79). Results: Most women were immigrants (93%), reported a combined household income of $20,000 or less (75%), did not graduate from high school (59%), and primarily spoke Spanish (88%). In path analyses, more recent immigration was associated with greater dispositional expressivity, which in turn was associated with coping with the cancer experience using both greater avoidance and emotional approach strategies. Only avoidance-oriented strategies predicted an increase in intrusive thoughts at 3 months. No significant effects on depressive symptoms were observed. Conclusions: Findings suggest that Latina breast cancer patients who have a propensity to experience and express emotions strongly may be initially overwhelmed by their cancer-related emotions and consequently turn to avoidanceoriented and emotional approach strategies to cope with their diagnosis. Avoidance-oriented coping in turn may uniquely predict an increase in cancer-related intrusive thoughts 3 months later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-593
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Approach
  • Avoidance
  • Breast cancer
  • Coping
  • Latina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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