Cruess, D. G., Antoni, M. H., McGregor, B. A., Kilbourn, K. M., Boyers, A. E., Alferi, S. M., Carver, C. S., & Kumar, M.  (2000).  Cognitive behavioral stress management reduces serum cortisol by enhancing benefit finding among women being treated for early-stage breast cancer. PsychosomaticMedicine, 62, 304-308.

We examined the effect of a cognitive behavioral stress management intervention on serum cortisol in women being treated for Stage I or II breast cancer.  Participants received a 10-week intervention (n = 24) starting 4-8 weeks post-surgery or were wait-listed (n = 10).  Cortisol was assessed via radioimmunoassay just before the start of the intervention and immediately after its completion.  At the same time points, the women reported the degree to which breast cancer had made positive contributions to their lives, among other measures.  The intervention increased positive contributions and lowered serum cortisol (controlling for age, chemotherapy status, estradiol change, and menopausal status), whereas control subjects experienced neither change.  Path analysis suggested that the intervention’s effect on cortisol was mediated by increases in positive contributions.  These findings suggest that benefit finding during a time-limited intervention can influence the production of cortisol.

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