NYUCN Study of Adjustment to Maternal Breast Cancer Receives $100,000 Grant


New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN) assistant professor Donna Clemmens, PhD, RN, has received a two-year, $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct a study on the coping strategies and levels of stress of adolescent daughters whose mothers have breast cancer. The study will target 90 adolescent daughters and their mothers with breast cancer recruited through the New York University Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital cancer centers.

“Many cancer centers in the United States provide psychosocial support services for the over 200,000 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer each year,” says Clemmens. “Yet there are few supportive care services that target the coping of their adolescent daughters with the stress of their mother’s breast cancer, and we need to understand more.”

Adolescent daughters whose mothers have breast cancer have reported a 25 percent increased rate of anxiety and depression compared with a normative sample and compared with sons. They worry about their mothers and about developing breast cancer themselves, and they fear engaging in health-promoting activities. The strategies that adolescents use to cope with stress are potentially important mediators of the impact of stress on their current and future adjustment.

Given the increased risk of breast cancer that these daughters face, it is imperative to understand more about the coping strategies they adopt, says Clemmens. Her study will target adolescent daughters during the first year following diagnosis. Ultimately, the knowledge gained from this study will lead to the development of interventions that target coping and promote adjustment in this vulnerable group.


The College of Nursing at the College of Dentistry is located on New York University’s historic Greenwich Village campus in New York City. The College of Nursing is one of the leading nursing programs in the United States. The College offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Master of Arts and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Research Theory and Development. For more information, visit www.nyu.edu/nursing.

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