Quality of life of African American breast cancer survivors: how much do we know?

Kathleen M Russell, Diane M Von Ah, R Brian Giesler, Anna M Storniolo, Joan E Haase
Cancer Nursing 2008, 31 (6): E36-45
Women affected by breast cancer experience an array of quality-of-life issues that affect their daily living in both short-term and long-term survivorship. Because African American women experience disparities in breast cancer survival, their quality-of-life concerns may paint a different picture from those of other racial and ethnic groups. To gain a better understanding of quality of life in African American women breast cancer survivors, we conducted a review, using an adaptation of Brenner's quality-of-life proximal-distal continuum, of studies that have investigated these women's experiences and associated variables. Twenty-six studies, qualitative and quantitative, were reviewed that identified both deficits and positive outcomes of breast cancer treatment and sequelae, including physical, emotional, social, and patient-provider problems as well as heightened spirituality and positive growth. Although overall global quality of life was favorable in both African American and white survivors, differences existed in the nature and extent of deficits between these 2 survivor groups. Nursing implications of this review point to the need for further rigorous research and wide dissemination of results. Recommendations for practice include tailoring assessments and interventions within the context of the lives of African American women breast cancer survivors.

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