Peer navigation in African American breast cancer survivors

Patient Relat Outcome Meas. 2014 Nov 7:5:131-44. doi: 10.2147/PROM.S69744. eCollection 2014.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility and acceptability of a peer navigation survivorship program for African American (AA) breast cancer survivors (BCS) and its potential effects on selected short-term outcomes according to the Quality of Life Model Applied to Cancer Survivors.

Methods: An AA BCS who completed treatment over 1 year prior to the study was trained as a peer navigator (PN), and then paired with AA women completing primary breast cancer treatment (n=4) for 2 months. This mixed-methods, proof of concept study utilized a convergent parallel approach to explore feasibility and investigate whether changes in scores are favorable using interviews and self-administered questionnaires.

Results: Results indicate that the PN intervention was acceptable by both PN and BCS, and was feasible in outcomes of recruitment, cost, and time requirements. Improvements in symptom distress, perceived support from God, and preparedness for recovery outcomes were observed over time. Qualitative analysis revealed six themes emerging from BCS interviews: "learning to ask the right questions", "start living life again", "shifting my perspective", "wanting to give back", "home visits are powerful", and "we both have a journey": support from someone who has been there.

Conclusion: Results support current literature indicating that AA women who have survived breast cancer can be an important source of support, knowledge, and motivation for those completing breast cancer treatment. Areas for future research include standardization of training and larger randomized trials of PN intervention.

Implications for cancer survivors: The transition from breast cancer patient to survivor is a period when there can be a loss of safety net concurrent with persistent support needs. AA cancer survivors can benefit from culturally tailored support and services after treatment for breast cancer. With further testing, this PN intervention may aid in decreasing general symptom distress and increase readiness for recovery post-treatment.

Keywords: African American; breast cancer; peer support; survivor.