Is expressive suppression harmful for Chinese American breast cancer survivors?

Qian Lu, William Tsai, Qiao Chu, Jing Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Emotion regulation strategies are important for cancer survivors’ adjustment. Expressive suppression, defined as the active effort of inhibiting the expressive component of an emotional response, has been found to be a maladaptive emotion regulation strategy. These studies, however, have been limited to cross-sectional designs and primarily European American samples. Chinese culture encourages emotion suppression to preserve interpersonal harmony and therefore it may be important to test these emotion regulation processes with this population. This study aimed to examine the longitudinal effects of expressive suppression, ambivalence over emotional expression (i.e., inner conflict over emotional expression), and cognitive reappraisal on quality of life among Chinese American breast cancer survivors. 103 participants completed a questionnaire assessing expressive suppression, ambivalence over emotional expression, cognitive reappraisal, and quality of life at baseline and a questionnaire assessing quality of life eight weeks later. Consistent with our hypotheses, baseline ambivalence over emotional expression was associated with lower follow-up quality of life above and beyond the effect of expressive suppression. Furthermore, cognitive reappraisal moderated the relations between expressive suppression and follow-up quality of life, such that expressive suppression may be less detrimental for Chinese American breast cancer survivors who are able to regulate their emotions using cognitive reappraisal. Implications for informing interventions for Chinese American breast cancer survivors are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume109
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Ambivalence over emotional expression
  • Chinese American breast cancer survivors
  • Cognitive reappraisal
  • Expressive suppression
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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