A growing body of research is focusing on finding factors that improve resilience, the ability to work through difficult situations while remaining unharmed or even growing stronger. A new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers on breast cancer survivors finds a range of factors improve resilience in women of all sexual orientations equally, but unemployment reduces resilience only in sexual minority women.
The study, published in LGBT Health, looked at 540 breast cancer survivors, including 339 heterosexual women and 201 women who identified as lesbian, bisexual, or reported having a female partner. The researchers found social support, “fighting spirit,” and giving control to a “higher power” are similarly associated with greater resilience in breast cancer survivors of all sexual orientations, while unemployment may reduce resilience in sexual minority women but not in straight women.
“In the context of breast cancer, very little work has examined assets like resilience that interventions could leverage to improve survivors’ well-being, especially among sexual minority women who experience greater risk of breast cancer than straight women,” says lead author Dr. Angela Bazzi, assistant professor of community health sciences at BUSPH.
“The reasons why unemployed sexual minority women had lower resilience than employed sexual minority women, and why we didn’t see these differences among heterosexual women, could reflect important contextual factors, like social stressors or resources, that influence their health and well-being.”