Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 2463–2472 | Cite as

Predictors of quality of life in head and neck cancer survivors up to 5 years after end of treatment: a cross-sectional survey

  • Mary Wells
  • Samantha Swartzman
  • Heidi Lang
  • Margaret Cunningham
  • Lesley Taylor
  • Jane Thomson
  • Julie Philp
  • Colin McCowan
Original Article



This study aimed to assess quality of life (QoL) in head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors and determine factors predictive of poor QoL in the first 5 years after the end of treatment.


A cross-sectional survey, including the Quality of Life in Adult Cancer Survivors (QLACS) measure, was sent to HNC survivors in three Scottish health regions, with responses linked to routinely collected clinical data. Independent sample t tests, ANOVAs, Pearson correlations and multiple hierarchical regressions were used to explore associations between and to determine the contribution made by demographic, lifestyle and clinical factors to predicting ‘generic’ and ‘cancer-specific’ quality of life.


Two hundred eighty patients (65 %) returned questionnaires. After adjustment, multivariate analysis showed that younger age, lower socio-economic status, unemployment and self-reported comorbidity independently contributed to poorer generic and cancer-specific quality of life. In addition to these factors, having had a feeding tube or a diagnosis of oral cavity cancer were independently predictive of poorer cancer-specific quality of life.


Socio-economic factors and comorbidity are important predictors of QoL in HNC survivors. These factors and the detrimental long-term effects of feeding tubes need further attention in research and practice.


Quality of life Head and neck cancer Survivors Socio-economic status Feeding tube 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NMAHP Research Unit, Scion HouseUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of DundeeDundeeUK
  3. 3.School of Nursing and MidwiferyUniversity of DundeeDundeeUK
  4. 4.Radiotherapy and OncologyNinewells HospitalDundeeUK
  5. 5.NHS Forth ValleyLarbertScotland
  6. 6.NHS FifeQueen Margaret HospitalDunfermlineUK
  7. 7.Robertson Centre for BiostatisticsUniversity of Glasgow Boyd Orr BuildingGlasgowUK
  8. 8.Medicine and SurgeryKing Abdulaziz Medical CityJeddahSaudi Arabia

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