Academic journal article ABNF Journal

African American Women with Breast Cancer and Their Spouses' Perception of Care Received from Physicians

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

African American Women with Breast Cancer and Their Spouses' Perception of Care Received from Physicians

Article excerpt

Abstract: Several studies have been conducted which have examined the communication patterns and interpersonal relationships among minority patients and their physicians. These studies suggest that there are differences in the care received from physicians based on the racial and cultural background of the patient. However, little is known about the interpersonal relationships and communication patterns of AA couples coping with a breast cancer diagnosis and their physicians. This report presents the outcomes of a qualitative study undertaken to examine the perceptions of breast cancer care rendered by physicians to African American couples. The AA couples involved in the study reported that the care they received was compassionate, competent, comprehensive and comparable to other women. Each of these qualities was identified by as being essential to quality patient care.

Key Words: Breast Cancer; African American Women; Spouses ' Perceptions.

Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths among African American (AA) women. Although AA women have a slightly lower incidence of breast cancer than do Caucasian women, their breast cancer mortality rate is 32% higher. The 5-year survival rate for breast cancer among AA women is 75% as compared to 89% for Caucasian women (American Cancer Society [ACS], 2005).

Receiving adequate and comprehensive care from physicians is essential to the physical and emotional wellbeing of women coping with breast cancer (Dowsett et al., 2000; Mallinger, Griggs, & Shields, 2005). However, studies have shown that AA women with breast cancer often perceive that physicians may be less concerned about their breast health issues as compared to Caucasian women (Ashing-Giwa & Ganz, 1997; Katz et al., 2005; Moore, 2001).

Several studies have been conducted which have examined the communication patterns and interpersonal relationships among minority patients and their physicians (Saha, Arbelaez, & Cooper, 2003; Barr, 2004; Cooper, Roter, Johnson, Ford, Steinwachs, & Powe, 2003; Garcia, Paterniti, Romano, Kravitz, 2003; Johnson, Saha, Arbeleaz, Beach, & Cooper, 2004; Saha, Komaromy, Koepsell, & Bindman, 1999). These studies suggest that there are differences in the care received from physicians based on the racial and cultural background of the patient. However, little is known about the interpersonal relationships and communication patterns of AA couples coping with a breast cancer diagnosis and their physicians (Morgan et al., 2005). It is believed that the exploration of provider-patient communication patterns could provide information relevant to the identification of factors impacting the quality and outcomes of breast care among AA women diagnosed with breast cancer. Consequently, a study which assessed how AA couples perceive the breast cancer care received from physicians and to assess the communication patterns of AA couples coping with a diagnosis of breast cancer and their physicians was initiated.

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Few research reports focused on the examination of the experience of AA couples coping with a diagnosis of breast cancer have been published in the peer-reviewed literature (Morgan et al., 2005). Henderson and Fogel (2003) used quantitative and qualitative methods to examine supportive networks used most frequently by AA women to cope with the challenges of breast cancer. They found that AA women coped first by relying on God, second on supportive networks such as family members, third on friends, and fourth on health care providers (HCPs). AA women frequently sought professional help "a great deal" (51.2%) to cope with breast cancer. However, 23.3% of the AA women reported that they did not use professional help to cope with breast cancer. The researchers suggested that it was important for HCPs to recognize the use of informal support networks such as family members and formal support networks such as HCPs used by AA women to cope with breast cancer. …

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