247238 African American breast cancer survivors participating in a support group: Translating research into oncology practice

Monday, October 31, 2011: 11:26 AM

Anjanette Wells, PhD, MSW , George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Lauren E. Gulbas, Visiting Assistant Professor , Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
En-Jung Shon, MSW Candidate (2011) , George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Matthew W. Kreuter, PhD, MPH , Health Communication Research Laboratory, Washington University in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, St. Louis, MO
Background: Identifying socio-cultural facilitators that increase breast cancer screening, treatment adherence, and coping can help reduce disparities for African American women. This qualitative study described and examined the main coping facilitators throughout the cancer continuum for African American women. Method: We carried out thematic analysis on 20 semi-structured interviews, conducted with African American breast cancer survivors participating in a breast cancer support group in St. Louis, Missouri. Result: Each survivor described a moment of transition during their cancer experience, from negativity to resilience. Survivors reported knowledge about cancer, which contributed to an increased perception of the importance of cancer screening. Upon initial cancer diagnosis, survivors reported vivid emotional reactions: “fear”, “shock”, “anger.” This initial experience was often intensified by negative side effects from treatment, in addition to poor interactions with healthcare practitioners. Emerging strength and resilience stemmed from two main sources: spirituality and social support from family, friends, and other cancer survivors. Survivors pointed to the importance of sharing her cancer story with others and becoming involved in community services, as a way of “giving back” and increasing public knowledge of the importance of early screening. Conclusions: Translating these results indicate important clinical implications, directed at the initial diagnostic stage and subsequent treatment phase of cancer continuum. Psycho-education and supportive counseling efforts should be provided to all newly diagnosed cancer survivors to address fears, increase knowledge, and improve coping. Clinical oncology practitioners should guide patients and survivors to resources and interventions which facilitate spiritual coping and social support.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Describe and examine the main facilitators throughout the cacner continuum for African Americna women.

Keywords: African American, Breast Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I conduct research on cancer disparities at an academic research institution and have had over 15 years of clinical health experience.
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.