The proposed investigation will conduct a randomized, clinical trial to test the efficacy of
a cognitive behavioral stress management (CBSM) group intervention on immune response to
vaccine and distress among women at elevated risk for breast cancer.
Hypothesis 1: Women who participate in the CBSM intervention will have a larger primary and
secondary antibody response to vaccines compared to women in the comparison group.
Hypothesis 2: Women who participate in a 10-week CBSM group intervention will report lower
levels of distress immediately after and 6 months after the intervention compared to women
in the comparison group.
Chronic stress can impair immune function, including immune response to vaccines. This has
important implications for cancer control and prevention because tumor vaccines are emerging
as tools for cancer treatment and prevention, and the cohort that would benefit from the
vaccines is likely to be stressed. Women at elevated risk for breast cancer experience
significant levels of distress that have been associated with immune function decrements.
Interventions to treat distress-related immune decrements among these women are needed
because these women will be among the first candidates for breast cancer vaccines. In
theory, stress-management interventions should improve immune function and response to
vaccines, but the findings to date are mixed, in part because most intervention studies have
been done with medical patients who by nature have immune confounds. Thus, it is unknown how
stress management interventions affect immune function in stressed but otherwise healthy
people, such as women at elevated risk for breast cancer.
Comparison: Women will be randomly assigned to a 10-week structured, CBSM intervention or a
wait-list comparison group with delay participation in the intervention. The comparison
group will be offered the full CBSM intervention after all assessment time points have been
- Female, age 18-60 years
- Family history of breast cancer
- Fluent in English
- Working phone
- Working address
- Plan to live in the area for one year
- Prior cancer diagnosis (except non-melanoma skin cancer)
- Current major depressive episode
- History of Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia
- History of autoimmune disease
- History of Hepatitis A or HA vaccination
- Current infectious disease
- Use of immune modulating drugs