Expectancies for post-surgical pain and fatigue have previously been found to predict pain and fatigue among breast cancer surgery patients. However, the study of predictors of these expectancies has been neglected. The present study was designed to investigate predictors of expectancies for post-surgical pain and fatigue among breast cancer surgery patients. Four hundred and eighteen women (M = 48.3 years, SD = 13.66 years) scheduled to undergo excisional breast biopsy or lumpectomy completed questionnaires assessing demographics/medical history, pre-surgical distress, stable personality characteristics, pre-surgical pain and fatigue, and expectancies for post-surgical pain and fatigue. Path analysis revealed: expectancies for post-surgical pain were significantly predicted by trait anxiety, acute pre-surgical distress, and age; and expectancies for post-surgical fatigue were significantly predicted by acute pre-surgical distress, acute pre-surgical fatigue, previous experience with the same surgical procedure, and education (all ps < .05). Examination of an alternative model revealed that the effects of the aforementioned predictors on expectancies were not mediated by acute pre-surgical distress, clarifying the directionality of the distress-expectancy relationship. Expectancies for post-surgical pain and fatigue are influenced by distress, treatment history, stable personality characteristics, extant symptoms, and demographic factors. These variables should be considered in designing clinical interventions to manipulate expectancies for patient benefit.
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