Study: Latino Cancer Survivors Enjoy Higher Quality of Life—If Satisfied with Their Care


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Latino cancer survivors who were satisfied with their care had higher quality of life and more confidence dealing with their doctor, emotional distress, and daily activities than those less satisfied with their care, according to a new study by UT Health San Antonio and Northwestern University.

The study, published in Cancer, surveyed 288 Latino breast, prostate, and colon cancer survivors in San Antonio and Chicago about patient satisfaction with cancer care influences their quality of life and confidence managing different aspects of their cancer experience.

Overall, Latino cancer survivors in the study reported lower health-related quality of life than that of non-Latino white survivors in previous studies.

Latino survivors who reported more satisfaction with their cancer care, though, experienced higher quality of life. They also were more confident in their ability to manage communication with their physician, emotional distress, and daily activities, such as hobbies and social interactions.

“This shows that improving Latino cancer patients’ satisfaction with their cancer care may help boost their confidence in dealing with their cancer experience, resulting in a higher quality of life,” said study principal investigator and co-author Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio and associate director of cancer prevention and health disparities at Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio.

Implications of the Study for Latinos with Cancer

The study also found that Latino cancer survivors who were foreign-born, less acculturated, and only spoke Spanish had lower confidence managing communication with their physician.

Guadalupe cornejo patient navigation promotora community health worker 2This highlights the need to consider acculturation and language use when working with Latinos in cancer care.

These factors may identify survivors who need additional support, said study lead author Dr. Patricia Moreno of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

“These findings underscore the importance of implementing patient-centered cancer care practices—such as involving patients in care decisions, providing sufficient time with physicians, easy access to medical advice, courteous/respectful staff—and suggest that improving satisfaction with cancer care may increase patients’ confidence in managing important aspects of their cancer experience and, in turn, improve quality of life among Latino cancer survivors,” Moreno said.

Strategies to Improve Satisfaction with Cancer Care

The study identified strategies that may improve Latino cancer survivors’ quality of life by increasing satisfaction with their cancer care and confidence managing their cancer experience.

These include:

  • Implementing patient-centered cancer care practices. Involving patients in care decisions, providing sufficient time with physicians and easy access to medical advice, and ensuring that interactions with staff are courteous and respectful, are some top ways to improve patients’ satisfaction with their care.
  • Developing culturally-tailored interventions to promote patients’ “coping” abilities. This can help patients learn ways to cope with their cancer. It can build their confidence managing communication with their physician, physical and emotional health, and day-to-day activities after a diagnosis and during and after treatment.
  • Providing access to supportive care. Access to patient navigators, psychologists or counselors, social workers, and referrals to community resources can give patients medical advice, help with timely appointments, and connect them to additional support.

“Findings add to a growing literature suggesting that programs that target Latino survivors need to address not only contextual factors such as socioeconomic status, but also well-established mechanisms of optimal adjustment such as self-efficacy and patient satisfaction,” said Dr. Frank J. Penedo, study senior author and co-principal investigator, who was previously at Northwestern and now is at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami.

Additional study authors UT Health San Antonio include Kipling J. Gallion, assistant professor; Edgar Munoz, statistician; and Arely Perez, MS, project coordinator.

Additional study authors from Northwestern University include: Rina S. Fox, PhD, post-doctoral fellow; Leopoldo Castillo, MA, project coordinator; and Ryne Estabrook, PhD, assistant professor. Other study authors include: Thomas Lad, MD, chairman, and Courtney Hollowell, MD, chairman, Cook County Health and Hospital Systems; and Sandra L. San Miguel-Majors, MS, program director.

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By The Numbers By The Numbers



of Latinos remain without health insurance coverage

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