Socioeconomic status has a psychological affect on women after they are diagnosed with a precancerous breast condition, according to researchers who published a study in Cancer ([Epub ahead of print]).

Janet de Moor, MPH, PhD, of the Ohio State University College of Public Health and colleagues conducted a study to examine the impact of having a medium or low-level income on psychological adjustment following stressful event, such as being diagnosed with a potentially serious medical condition.

The study specifically examined whether socioeconomic status contributes to diagnosis anxiety in women after they are diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Moreover, the investigators also explored whether social support might impact the effects of socioeconomic status on distress in these women.

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Among 487 women with newly diagnosed DCIS who completed questions about sociodemographic, psychosocial, and clinical characteristics at the start of the study and 9 months following diagnosis, researchers found that financial status was inversely associated with distress at the 9-month follow-up point. Women with financial hardship reported higher levels of anxiety and depression than women with no financial burden. Furthermore, while women with no financial hardship reported a decrease in their feelings of anxiety and depression over time, women with medium to high levels of financial hardship reported an increase in their feelings of anxiety and depression during the study period.

“Women with medium or low socioeconomic status are forced to manage competing stressors: the stress of financial hardship and the stress of a major health event,” said Dr de Moor. “Because these concomitant stressors leave women vulnerable to escalating distress after their DCIS diagnosis, women with medium or low financial status may benefit from psychosocial interventions.”