Understanding racial differences in health-related quality of life in a population-based cohort of breast cancer survivors
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- Pinheiro, L.C., Samuel, C.A., Reeder-Hayes, K.E. et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2016) 159: 535. doi:10.1007/s10549-016-3965-y
Although racial disparities in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among women with breast cancer (BC) are well documented, less is known about HRQOL changes over time among women of different races. Our objective was to assess racial differences in HRQOL during active treatment and survivorship phases of BC care.
We used data from the third phase of the Carolina Breast Cancer Study (CBCS-III). CBCS-III enrolled 3000 women in North Carolina aged 20–74 years diagnosed with BC between 2008 and 2013. HRQOL assessments occurred 5 and 25 months post diagnosis, representing distinct phases of care. HRQOL measures included the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy for BC and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy for Spiritual Well-Being. Analysis of covariance models were employed to assess racial differences in changes in HRQOL.
The cohort included 2142 Non-Hispanic White (n = 1105) and Black women (n = 1037) who completed both HRQOL assessments. During active treatment, Whites reported physical and functional scores 2–2.5 points higher than Blacks (p < 0.0001). Spiritual HRQOL was 2.1 points higher for Blacks (p < 0.0001). During survivorship, differences persisted. After adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, tumor, and treatment characteristics, physical and functional HRQOL gaps narrowed, but spiritual HRQOL gaps widened.
Racial differences in physical and functional HRQOL during active treatment and survivorship may be largely mediated by socioeconomic factors. However, our results suggest that among Black women, spiritual HRQOL is well supported throughout the BC care continuum. These results inform opportunities for improving the quality and equity of supportive services for women with BC.