Quality of life in breast cancer survivors: implications for developing support services.

B. R. Ferrell, M. M. Grant, B. M. Funk, S. A. Otis-Green, N. J. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: Quality of life (QOL) is becoming more important in regard to breast cancer as treatment advances extend the period of survivorship. The purpose of this article is to share the results of a cancer center's attempt to evaluate the QOL needs of breast cancer survivors in order to provide improved supportive-care services. DESIGN: Descriptive mailed survey. SETTING: A medical center in southern California. SAMPLE: A random sample of breast cancer survivors (N = 298). METHODS: Breast cancer survivors completed a mailed survey that included major outcome variables of QOL and pain. Subjects were stratified by three age groups: younger than 40 years, 40-60 years, and older than 60 years. MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES: QOL subscales (physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being) and overall QOL score and pain as assessed by the Brief Pain Inventory. FINDINGS: Results indicated continued physical demands of breast cancer, including fatigue and pain, as well as psychological burdens related to fear of breast cancer recurrence and anxiety. The social well-being domain indicated some unique aspects of QOL when applied to breast cancer survivorship such as the fear of breast cancer in female relatives. The spiritual well-being domain illustrated the unique QOL aspects of life-threatening illness such as living with uncertainty and maintaining hope. Breast cancer survivors also reported positive aspects and life changes after successfully facing breast cancer. CONCLUSIONS: Breast cancer survivors experience many demands of illness across the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual domains. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: The study's findings can be useful in directing cancer centers' efforts to provide comprehensive care for breast cancer survivors. Nurses play a critical role in leading these efforts for supportive-care services intended to improve the QOL of breast cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-895
Number of pages9
JournalOncology nursing forum
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


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