Body image and quality of life in women with breast cancer: Appreciating the body and its functionality

Kerry Ettridge, Katrine Scharling-Gamba, Caroline Miller, David Roder, Ivanka Prichard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Women with breast cancer often experience major physical changes, which can impact their body image and Quality of Life (QoL). Traditional assessments of body image implemented within breast cancer research focus solely on body dissatisfaction. This study explored the association between both positive and negative body image and QoL. Australian women (N = 123) within 5-years of a breast cancer diagnosis were invited to complete a web-based questionnaire including measures of body appreciation and functionality appreciation, cancer-specific measures of body dissatisfaction and QoL, and demographic, health and treatment/illness questions. All body image measures were significantly associated with QoL (p < .01). However, when body image variables were entered simultaneously as predictors of QoL (adjusting for comorbidity, treatment and employment), only body dissatisfaction was significantly associated with QoL (p < .001). Further analyses indicated this was due to shared variance in QoL between body and functionality appreciation, suggesting they assess highly related constructs within this population. Results indicate positive and negative components of body image are relevant to QoL within breast cancer populations; though, body dissatisfaction remained the strongest predictor of QoL indicating its pervasiveness. Future research should explore the development and use of breast cancer-specific measures of positive body image.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-102
Number of pages11
JournalBody Image
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Body appreciation
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Body image
  • Breast cancer
  • Functionality appreciation
  • Quality of life


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