172691 Exploring the Cancer Experience among Samoan Survivors and Supporters

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sora Park Tanjasiri, DrPH , Department of Health Science, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Sala Mataalii, MPA , Samoan National Nurses Association, Carson, CA
Melanie Sabado, BS, BA , Department of Health Science, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
While considerable literature exists supporting the need for formal social support programs for breast cancer survivors, only a few studies have looked at the roles that informal supporters (i.e., family and friends) play in survivor quality of life and survival. The latter, however, is of considerable relevance for ethnic/racial women from culturally collective communities, such as Samoans and other Pacific Islanders (PIs). In this qualitative study we interviewed 20 survivors and 40 of their informal supporters. We used a community-based participatory research model with shared leadership from a Samoan community-based organization and academic university. Using open-ended question guides and trained, bilingual nurses as interviewers, we examined survivors' and supporters' experiences during screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up, probing for issues related to delays in diagnosis and treatment, disclosure of cancer, communication patterns, treatment decision making, types of social support needed and provided, sexuality and self-concept, and spirituality. We found that although 75% of the survivors relied on at least one supporter to help them make decisions about treatment, 100% of them shared feelings of worry for their supporter. Cultural dimensions of the cancer experience included use of traditional Samoan treatments, self-image (e.g., regarding hair loss), and self-reliance. Among supporters, 80% of supporters feared a recurrence, with 37.5% stating that they feel depressed or sad about their family member/friend's breast cancer experience. Approximately 10% of supporters reported lower emotional and mental status. These issues require holistic, family and community oriented approaches that respect cultural elements while destigmatizing cancer experiences.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe cultural dimensions of breast cancer survivorship and support among Samoans in Southern California. 2. Recognize issues facing survivors and supporters at different stages of the cancer cancer continuum. 3. Identify approaches for developing culturally and community relevant interventions.

Keywords: Asian and Pacific Islander Women, Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I served as Co-PI on the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.