Cancer Support Needs for African American Breast Cancer Survivors and Caregivers
Improved cancer screening and treatment advances have led to higher cancer survival rates in the United States. However, racial disparities in breast cancer survival persist for African American women who experience lower survival rates than white women. These disparities suggest that unmet needs related to survivorship still exist. This study focuses on the challenges that both African American cancer survivors and caregivers face across the cancer continuum. Five African American focus groups examined cancer survivor and caregiver support needs. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and uploaded into Atlas.ti. Thematic content analysis was applied to the text during the coding process. Themes were identified and emphasized based on the research team’s integrated and unified final codes. Forty-one African Americans participated in five focus groups: 22 cancer survivors and 19 caregivers. Participants discussed five themes: (1) a culture that discourages the discussion of cancer; (2) lack of support services for African American cancer survivors; (3) lack of support services for cancer caregivers; (4) need for culturally appropriate cancer resources, including resources targeted at African American women; and (5) aspects that were helpful to cancer survivors and caregivers, including connecting with other survivors and caregivers, and having strong social support networks. We gained new insight into the unmet support needs for survivors and caregivers, especially when coping with the cancer experience continuum. While some cancer and caregiver support services exist, our study reveals a great need for services that incorporate the cultural differences that exist across races.
KeywordsCancer survivors Cancer caregivers Cancer support African American Breast cancer
The authors would like to thank the focus group participants for their time and William Carpenter, Ph.D, for his gracious editorial assistance. Marlyn Allicock, Ph.D. and La-Shell Johnson’s time was supported by the National Cancer Institute Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, Community Network Program Centers (CNPC), and the Carolina Community Network (Grant No. 3U54153602-04S1).
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