Perceived Stress Has a Negative Effect on Self-Reported Upper Extremity Function among Women Treated for Breast Cancer


Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



Research Objectives:
Women treated for breast cancer report ongoing disability in their involved upper extremity, however, often objective measures do not appear to explain the level of perceived dysfunction. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between perceived stress level, fear of physical activity and self-reported upper extremity function among women treated for breast cancer.

Observational cohort study

General community

Twenty-five women with a mean age of 52 years (range 31-68) diagnosed with Stage 1-3 breast cancer between 12 and 60 months prior to data collection.

Participants completed three patient-reported outcome scales in a single visit. Data were analyzed with Pearson’s correlation r to determine if there was a relationship between self-reported upper extremity function and/or perceived stress level and fear of physical activity.

Main Outcome Measure(s):
Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH), a 30-item self-report scale of upper extremity function; Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), a 10-item self-report scale of stress in the past month; and Fear of Physical Activity/Exercise Scale - Breast Cancer (FPAX-B), a 17-item self-report scale concerning participation in physical activity for breast cancer survivors.

There was a significant relationship between the DASH and both the PSS , r=.074, p (one-tailed) < .001 and FPAX-B, r=.072, p (one-tailed) < .001.

Results of the study suggest that there is a significant positive relationship between the DASH and both the PSS and FPAX-B among women treated for breast cancer. Perceived stress and fear of physical activity may be impacting self-reported upper extremity functional abilities. Further research should be done to investigate the role of stress and fear of physical activity has on perceived measures of upper extremity function.

Conference Name

American Congress of Rehabilitation of Medicine

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