Perceptions of Endocrine Therapy in African-American Breast Cancer Survivors: Mixed Methods Study

JMIR Form Res. 2021 Jun 11;5(6):e23884. doi: 10.2196/23884.


Background: Although the incidence of breast cancer is lower in African-American women than in White women, African-American women have a decreased survival rate. The difference in survival rate may stem from poor endocrine therapy adherence, which increases breast cancer recurrence. Therefore, accessible and culturally sensitive interventions to increase endocrine therapy adherence are necessary.

Objective: The purpose of this concurrent convergent mixed methods study was to provide further data to guide the development of the proposed culturally sensitive mHealth app, STORY+ for African-American women with breast cancer.

Methods: We recruited 20 African-American women diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer and currently prescribed endocrine therapy. We used a concurrent convergent data collection method to (1) assess the use of smartphones and computers related to health care and (2) identify foundational aspects to support endocrine therapy adherence for incorporation in a mobile health app.

Results: Overwhelmingly, the participants preferred using smartphones to using computers for health care. Communicating with health care providers and pharmacies was the most frequent health care use of smartphones, followed by exercise tracking, and accessing the patient portal. We identified 4 aspects of adherence to endocrine therapy and smartphone use for incorporation in app development. The factors that emerged from the integrated qualitative and quantitative data were (1) willingness to use, (2) side effects, (3) social connection, and (4) beliefs about endocrine therapy.

Conclusions: Further research is needed to develop a culturally sensitive app for African-American women with breast cancer to improve adherence to endocrine therapy. Our work strongly suggests that this population would use the app to connect with other African-American breast cancer survivors and manage endocrine therapy.

Keywords: breast cancer survivors; cultural considerations; mHealth; medication adherence; mobile health applications.