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Keywords:

  • prostate cancer;
  • education;
  • health related quality of life;
  • socioeconomic status;
  • disparities;
  • VA health care system

Abstract

BACKGROUND.

Previous findings have suggested that patient educational attainment is related to cancer stage at presentation and treatment for localized prostate cancer, but there is little information on education and quality of life outcomes. Patient education level and quality of life were examined among men diagnosed with prostate cancer and cared for within an equal-access health care system, the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration (VA).

METHODS.

Participants were 248 men with prostate cancer cared for in the VA and enrolled in CaPSURE. Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to examine quality of life over time according to education level, controlling for age, ethnicity, income, site of clinical care, and year of diagnosis.

RESULTS.

Patients with lower levels of education tended to be younger, nonwhite, and have lower incomes. Controlling for age, ethnicity, income, year of diagnosis, and site, men with less formal education, compared with those with more, had worse functioning in the physical (P = .0248), role physical (P = .0048), role emotional (P = .0089), vitality (P = .0034), mental health (P = .0054), social function (P = .0056), and general health (P = .0002) domains and worse urinary (P = .003) and sexual (P = .0467) side effects.

CONCLUSIONS.

Men with less education experienced worse health-related quality of life across a wide range of domains and greater urinary and sexual symptoms than their peers who had more education. Clinicians should be aware that, even within an equal access to health care system, men with less education are vulnerable, having greater difficulty functioning in their daily lives after their prostate cancer treatment. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.