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Theses Doctoral

African American Breast Cancer Survivors’ Online Study of Factors Related to Quality of Life: Health Status, Posttraumatic Growth, Religiosity/Spirituality, Social Support, Partner Support, Stress, Depression, Anxiety, and Coping Self-Efficacy

Mecklembourg, Elsy

African American breast cancer survivors (N=22) in this exploratory study had a mean of 15.55 years since diagnosis (SD=10.734, min-5 years, max= 47 years). The women reported good quality of life, good health, good health care, very good provider care, very good sensitivity by their provider for their being a cancer survivor, and very good sensitivity and competence by their provider for treating them as an African American breast cancer survivor. Both the quantitative and qualitative data reinforce each other, showing evidence of posttraumatic growth from breast cancer, including a significant increase from before breast cancer to after breast cancer in their spirituality. Perhaps, most importantly, this exploratory study with a small sample found suggestive positive correlations between two types of self-efficacy coping and quality of life: i.e., the higher the rating for quality of life, then the greater the use of problem focused coping (r=.798, p=.000), and greater the use of support from friends/family coping (r=.776, p=.000). Hence, coping emerges as vital with regard to achieving a higher quality of life. This is consistent with Gaston-Johansson et al. (2013), urging exposing women to a Comprehensive Coping Strategy Program (CCSP). As an implication of this study, such a focus on coping strategies is recommended for health educators in their work with breast cancer survivors, and also with the newly diagnosed. While women may emerge from a breast cancer diagnosis with greater spirituality and having discovered they are stronger than they think, there may be those women who are struggling. They have yet to achieve the key factors associated with a higher quality of life such as high self-efficacy to cope with stress. Thus, health educators are advised to ensure that African American breast cancer survivors and those newly diagnosed receive culturally tailored interventions designed to improve their self-efficacy to cope. Health educators may conduct support groups with survivors and newly diagnosed women, so as to ensure they have adequate social support—especially if spousal/partner support is not high. This may counter the tendency of some women to withdraw and isolate, as per the emergent theme: emotional numbing, withdrawing, and isolating.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Wallace, Barbara C.
Degree
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
August 29, 2019