, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 39-51

Health-related quality of life in a multiethnic sample of breast cancer survivors

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Background: Little is known about the experiences of women from varying ethnic groups following treatment for breast cancer.Purpose: This study provides a comprehensive description of heath-related quality of life (HRQL) and identifies problem areas and predictive factors for a multiethnic sample.Methods: Six hundred twenty-one breast cancer survivors from 2 major cities participated within 5 years of their diagnosis. Participants were African Americans, Latinas, Asian Americans, and Whites. Patients filled out questionnaire packets comprising standardized instruments related to HRQL, psychological adjustment, cancer-related treatment, and demographic variables. Data were analyzed using 2 methods: (a) observation of findings prior to controlling for demographic and treatment variables and (b) observation of findings after controlling for variables confounded with ethnicity.Results: Findings indicate that most women experienced good HRQL. Group differences revealed that African Americans found more meaning in life as a result of having breast cancer, and Latinas reported more physical symptoms. Age predicted aspects of HRQL for African Americans and Whites.Conclusions: This study comprehensively assessed HRQL following breast cancer for ethnic minority women. Most breast cancer survivors in this study reported levels of HRQL comparable to established norms. However, some quality of life impediments surfaced in particular groups. Researchers should not assume that predictive models of breast cancer HRQL are the same across ethnic groups.

This research was supported by Public Health Service Grant R01 CA63028 from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. P. A. Ganz is also supported by an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professorship.