Objectives: Research on the health-related quality of life
(HRQL) among women of color (i.e., Hispanics and African Americans) with
breast cancer suggests that they may be at elevated risk for a variety of
physical and psychosocial sequelae. The context in which these women
perceive, experience, and respond to these HRQL challenges can provide
important information for planning a culturally appropriate palliative
care treatment plan.
Methods: In an effort to understand the quality of life
experience after breast cancer among women of color, this study
describes the nature and impact of physical, emotional, and menopausal
symptoms among African American (n = 8) and Hispanic (n
= 12) breast cancer survivors based on qualitative data gathered through
semistructured interviews. Themes were identified and categorized into six
HRQL domains: physical (e.g., pain, nausea), psychological (e.g., sadness,
irritability), cognitive (e.g., memory problems), sexual (e.g., decreased
desire), social/functional (e.g., financial strain, social distress),
and spiritual/existential (e.g., increased faith, spiritual coping),
with high interrater reliability (kappa = .81).
Results: For both groups, physical issues had a major impact
on HRQL, with psychological issues being additionally salient for Hispanic
women. Most (88%) African American women voiced positive changes in their
faith after diagnosis whereas 50% of Hispanic women viewed faith as an
important way of coping with breast cancer.
Significance of results: This research broadens our
understanding of the experience of breast cancer among ethnic minority
women, and in turn, offers some key directions for guiding the development
of culturally tailored HRQL interventions.