Mădălina SUCALĂ*1,2, Julie SCHNUR1, Paul GREENE1, Daniel DAVID1,2, Joel ERBLICH1,3, Guy MONTGOMERY1
1Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA
2 Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
3 Hunter College, New York, USA
The present exploratory study investigated the interrelations among irrational cognitive processes, cognitive contents and specific emotions in breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. The data were collected during a randomized clinical trial investigating a cognitive behavioral therapy intervention for breast cancer women undergoing radiotherapy. Intervention group participants had to complete 2 worksheets (in which they described their thoughts and emotions) per every week of intervention. The content of the worksheets was coded into 3 categories: irrational cognitive processes, cognitive contents and emotions. Coding was based on Rational-Emotive Behavior Theory. The irrational cognitive processes most frequently exhibited by these patients were low frustration tolerance (82.3% of the patients), demandingness (79.4%), and catastrophizing (76.5%). The cognitive contents most frequently exhibited were comfort (88.2% of the patients) and fairness (67.6%). The most commonly experienced negative emotions were anxiety (73.5%) and anger (70.6%). Self-downing was a predictor for depression (OR=2.33, p<.010), while other-downing was a predictor for anger (OR=7.27, p<.001). A significant interaction was found between irrational cognitive process and cognitive content such that catastrophizing (p<.017), low frustration tolerance (p<.010) and selfdowning (p<.005) predicted anger only in the context of fairness. Irrational cognitive processes may not function in the same way for different contents and knowing the elements of the content-process-emotion equation can be useful and informative in tailoring short-term, effective interventions.
Keywords: Rational-Emotive Behavior Theory, irrational cognitive processes, cognitive contents, emotions