Purpose/objectives: To determine racial and ethnic differences in the range and number of post-treatment symptoms among women who have undergone surgical and postsurgical treatment for breast cancer.
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: Community-based social services agency and public health clinic.
Methods: Face-to-face interview of 116 women who had undergone breast cancer surgery.
Sample: Primarily low-income women in an urban area in northern California. Participants were recruited via posted flyers regarding the study.
Main research variables: Outcomes (depression, fatigue, pain, and swelling from lymphedema) and demographics (ethnicity, age, income, insurance, education, and marital status).
Findings: The typical participant was 47 years old, had 12 years of education, and was a parent (74%), unmarried (67%), heterosexual (88%), uninsured (68%), and employed (66%). Thirty percent were Caucasian, 30% African American, 25% Latina, and 15% women of other ethnic backgrounds. African American women and Latinas reported increased rates of pain and an increased number of symptoms. Latinas also reported higher rates of fatigue and depression. In multivariate analyses, an increased number of symptoms were associated with decreased income, with receiving chemotherapy, with having a mastectomy, and with Latina ethnicity.
Conclusions: These data suggest an increased rate of post-treatment symptoms experienced by low-income and ethnic minority women.
Implications for nursing: A need exists for affordable, culturally appropriate symptom management interventions. Nursing will have a vital role in designing, testing, and offering such interventions.