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Keywords:

  • breast cancer;
  • quality of life;
  • African American;
  • stress and coping

Abstract

The objectives of this study were to describe the quality of life of African American women with breast cancer and test a model of factors that may affect their quality of life. A stress-coping framework that included person (demographics, current concerns, and optimism), social resources (family functioning), and illness-related factors (symptom distress, medical characteristics), as well as appraisal of illness and quality of life, was used to guide this exploratory, cross-sectional study. Participants included 98 African American women who were approximately 4 years postdiagnosis. The women reported a fairly high quality of life, were generally optimistic, and had effective family functioning. Although symptom distress was generally low, a sizable number of women reported problems with energy loss, sleep disturbances, and pain. The model explained 75% of the variance in quality of life, with appraisal, family functioning, symptom distress, and recurrence status each explaining a significant amount of the variance. Current concerns had an indirect effect on quality of life that was mediated by appraisal. These findings underscore the importance of helping women foster a positive appraisal of their illness, manage current concerns, maintain family functioning, and reduce symptom distress, because each of these factors indirectly or directly affects their quality of life. © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Res Nurs Health 22:449–460, 1999