Characterizing Character Growth Following Breast Cancer Diagnosis Using Mobile Health

Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment are potent stressors for the individual. This may be particularly so for younger patients (<40 yrs) where the disease can be more aggressive, with a higher potential for lost years of life. Yet women differ greatly in their responses to diagnosis and treatment. Some cultivate new relationships, experience psychological growth and act more prosocially and altruistically. Some evidence suggests that certain types of character growth in response to stressful life-events may be associated with better psychological and physiological outcomes after the event is over. However, there is limited prospective longitudinal data to indicate which specific character traits primarily change in response to life-challenges and which are most associated with changes in actual behavior. This proposal will recruit a sample of 140 women, newly diagnosed with breast cancer and follow them for eighteen-months to study the psychological and behavioral changes associated with this adverse life-event. This proposal uses a multi-methods approach–in addition to retrospective self-reports of character, this project will collect longitudinal psychological and behavioral data as well as weekly in-the-moment-self-reports of functioning as individuals go about their everyday lives using mobile health methods to characterize the trajectories of character traits and actions following adversity.