Breast cancer care in older women: sources of information, social support, and emotional health outcomes

Cancer. 1998 Aug 15;83(4):706-11.


Background: The authors studied older women with breast cancer and asked: 1) where do older women get information regarding breast cancer care and how helpful do they perceive each of these sources to be? and 2) what aspects of social support are associated with older women's general and breast cancer specific emotional health outcomes?

Methods: To be eligible, women had to be at least 55 years of age and newly diagnosed with TNM Stage I or II breast cancer. Data were collected from women's surgical records and a 35-minute, computer-assisted telephone interview.

Results: Nearly all women rated information that was provided by their breast cancer physicians as very or somewhat helpful. Written materials provided by breast cancer physicians also were frequently rated as very or somewhat helpful. Women's marital status, religious service attendance, ratings of their physicians' technical and interpersonal care, and perceptions of their own abilities to communicate with their physicians were significantly associated with both general and breast cancer specific emotional health outcomes (all P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Although older women obtained information regarding breast cancer from a variety of sources, they relied heavily on their physicians for information. To care most effectively for this group of patients, an increased understanding of the relation between the processes and outcomes of breast cancer care is needed Identifying older women with breast cancer at risk for poor emotional health outcomes and developing methods to enhance physician-patient communication in this setting may improve these outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Social Support*
  • Treatment Outcome