*Note* This scheduling program was not designed by folks who do a lot with APA Style and unfortunately it defaults to listing authors in alphabetical order. We cannot fix this for this online schedule, but the author orders are posted in the order submitted in the printed program available via pdf here.
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Saturday, March 7 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
Identity as a Predictor of Psychosocial Well-being in Young Breast Cancer Survivors

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One of the most devastating and often persistent challenges facing breast cancer survivors involves coping with changes to their functioning and appearance. These challenges are more pronounced in younger breast cancer survivors who are at an increased risk of poor quality of life (QOL). The illness can disrupt the connection between survivors’ pre-illness identities and post treatment self-perceptions, and challenge survivors who feel unable to live up to their pre-illness ideals. To date, no studies have investigated identity as a predictor of psychosocial adjustment. The aim of this investigation is to examine whether identity integration, defined as the reformation of post-illness identities in a way that integrates the illness experience and allows for constructive shifts in one’s identity, especially in relation to traditional gender roles, is a significant predictor of psychosocial adjustment among young breast cancer survivors. As a first step, a pilot qualitative study explored survivors’ self experiences in relation to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer with ten young women. An ongoing study, using a mixed methods design has further assessed identity integration as a predictor of psychosocial adjustment. To date, the findings reveal that women who are supported, and able to develop a critical gender perspective on societal beliefs surrounding gender role and appearance “norms”, have greater opportunities to engage with the world adaptively after a mastectomy. By exploring innovative research on identity integration as a predictor of adjustment, this research can aid health practitioners in providing counselling and educational services that empowers young women to learn to maximize their health, QOL, and longevity. In turn, these services may support and foster self-nurturing appraisals for young women that build self-worth, increase acceptance of past trauma, and grieve for aspects of a former self to make room for a reintegrated self.

Saturday March 7, 2015 10:45am - 12:00pm PST