"As more and more women are living with metastatic breast cancer, it becomes ever more important to look at how women experience the disease differently based on their unique circumstances," said Margaret Quinn Rosenzweig, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of acute and tertiary care, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. "While we know that equitable treatment and symptom management are critical to breast cancer survival, we know much less about how quality of life and symptom distress vary according to women's race and income level, particularly for women living with advanced breast cancer."
The study looked at how women perceived barriers to treatment and to symptom management by evaluating the experiences of 57 women with metastatic breast cancer. Based on self-reporting, women were categorized into four groups: eight low-income African-American women, eight high-income African-American women, 16 low-income white women, and 25 high-income white women. Women filled out questionnaires on socio-demographics, symptom distress and quality of life, and were interviewed by the researchers to assess their experience with symptoms, self-care strategies and barriers to managing their symptoms.
The researchers found much higher levels of symptom distress and lower levels of quality of life reported by low-income African-American women than women from the other racial and economic groups. During the in