Background: This paper describes the ethnic and socioeconomic correlates of functioning in a cohort of long-term nonrecurring breast cancer survivors.
Methods: Participants (n = 804) in this study were women from the Health, Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle (HEAL) Study, a population-based, multicenter, multiethnic, prospective study of women newly diagnosed with in situ or Stages I to IIIA breast cancer. Measurements occurred at three timepoints following diagnosis. Outcomes included standardized measures of functioning (MOS SF-36).
Results: Overall, these long-term survivors reported values on two physical function subscales of the SF-36 slightly lower than population norms. Black women reported statistically significantly lower physical functioning (PF) scores (P = 0.01), compared with White and Hispanic women, but higher mental health (MH) scores (P < 0.01) compared with White and Hispanic women. In the final adjusted model, race was significantly related to PF, with Black participants and participants in the "Other" ethnic category reporting poorer functioning compared to the White referent group (P < 0.01, 0.05). Not working outside the home, being retired or disabled and being unemployed (on leave, looking for work) were associated with poorer PF compared to currently working (both P < 0.01).
Conclusion: These data indicate that race/ethnicity influences psychosocial functioning in breast cancer survivors and can be used to identify need for targeted interventions to improve functioning.