Latin American Cancer Research Coalition  



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Research

Quality of Life in Latina Breast Cancer Survivors
Principal Investigator
Melissa Figueiredo, PhD
mif2@georgetown.edu

Funded April 2004 through the Special Populations Network developmental research projects, this project aims to:

  1. Describe the post-treatment quality of life of Latina breast cancer survivors.
  2. Identify the unmet medical, social support, and concrete needs of Latina breast cancer survivors and their close friends or family.

In this pilot project, we have established a partnership between our Special Population Network and Nueva Vida, a Latina community survivor organization, to form a multidisciplinary team to describe the correlates of 1-2 year quality of life among Latina breast cancer survivors residing in the metropolitan DC area. Since little is known about the survival experience of this group, we have chosen to use inductive, qualitative methods to explore key concerns in this group and unique cultural factors that influence the post-treatment quality-of-life. We will highlight domains that are amenable to change in future interventions. To achieve our goals, we will first conduct key informant interviews with Nueva Vida peer counselors who are breast cancer survivors to finalize our semi-structured interview protocol. Next, we will conduct 60-90 minute in-depth semi-structured interviews with 30 Latina breast cancer survivors who are between 12 and 24 months post-treatment. We will recruit women from Nueva Vida and local surgery and oncology practices utilized by our SPN network sites. Finally, we will interview up to 10 close family members or friends named by the survivors we interview.

Qualitative methods yield a rich understanding of women's experiences as told in their own words. The interview data will provide guidance in refining a model of survivorship and in generating hypotheses to be explored in our next generation of research. Thus, we will use these narratives to identify key domains and correlates of quality of life and survivorship experiences unique to this population, and the "language" used by Latina survivors to capture these thoughts. These data will first be used in our future research to develop a quantitative survey instrument to describe survivorship in broader Latina populations, and to test specific hypotheses be used to inform development of future interventions to improve quality of life of Latina survivors. Efforts to provide physicians, patients, and community groups with information about the quality of life of Latina breast cancer survivors may result in increased attention to post-treatment needs and improved quality of life in Latinas breast cancer survivors.

This will be the first study that we are aware of to conduct an in-depth exploration of post-treatment quality-of-life in Latinas breast cancer survivors. The LACRC provides a unique platform for this research. This pilot will also capitalize on our multi-disciplinary expertise in breast cancer quality of life and qualitative methods and our familiarity with, and access to, the Latino medical community. The partnership between Nueva Vida, a community based support network for Latinas with breast cancer and the Latin American Research Coalition further strengthen this proposal.

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