Objectives: To examine racial/ethnic disparities in older women's health-related quality of life (QoL) and type of breast cancer treatment as mediated by physician-level and individual-level variables.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of a population-based, consecutive sample identified through the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program of Latina (n = 99), African American (n = 66), and White (n = 92) women aged 55 years or older (N = 257) between 3 and 9 months after primary breast cancer diagnosis and at least 1 month posttreatment. An exploratory, empirically developed latent variable model tested the relationships among demographic and physician-related variables, patient attitudes, and health-related outcomes. Health-related outcomes included QoL measures and receipt of breast conserving surgery (BCS).
Results: Latinas reported less BCS and poorer QoL compared with Whites. Physician communication that can empower patients, in terms of patient efficacy in patient?physician interactions and breast cancer knowledge, mitigated racial/ethnic disparities in receipt of BCS. Physician emotional support was not related to patient cognitive empowerment and treatment outcomes. Medical mistrust in minority women was related to less self-efficacy and less positive coping, as well as, both directly and indirectly, to reduced QoL. Latinas reported poorer QoL in the tested model.
Conclusion: Physician communication style, specifically information giving and participatory decision making, may empower older women with breast cancer and help mitigate racial/ethnic disparities in surgical treatment received.