Contextual Variables, Emotional State, and Current and Expected Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors

Theresa A. Kessler

ONF 2002, 29(7), 1109-1116. DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.1109-1116

Purpose/Objectives: To determine the relationship between contextual variables, emotional state, and quality of life (QOL) now and expectations for the future in survivors of breast cancer.

Design: Descriptive and nonexperimental.

Setting and Sample: 148 volunteers and women with breast cancer involved in a program by the American Cancer Society. Most subjects were middle-aged (X = 52.4, SD = 11.56), were married (72%), and had graduated high school (38%). Time since diagnosis was 0.3-19 years (X = 3.54, SD = 3.61); 74% were diagnosed more than five years ago, 54% were not receiving any treatment, and 66% had localized breast cancer.

Methods: At home, participants completed a self-report survey for personal and contextual variables, Positive and Negative Affect Scale, QOL Measurement, and Global Life Satisfaction Scale.

Main Research Variables: Time since diagnosis, extent of cancer, emotional state, QOL, and global life satisfaction.

Findings: Women had high positive affect (X = 37.96) and low negative affect (X = 17.13). QOL and life satisfaction were high. Time since diagnosis and extent of disease were related weakly to negative affect and QOL (p < 0.001). Positive and negative affect were related moderately to QOL and life satisfaction (p < 0.001). Current personal life satisfaction was significantly greater than breast cancer survivors' estimates for "most people," and survivors expected life satisfaction to increase significantly in five years (p < 0.001). Significant differences in QOL were found between those who were diagnosed recently and those who were diagnosed 10 or more years previously.

Conclusions: Despite breast cancer, women have positive affect, good QOL, and life satisfaction. Contextual variables were related weakly to outcomes; emotions were related more strongly to outcomes. Survivors were more satisfied with life than they estimated others to be and expected satisfaction to increase in the future.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses may use these findings to encourage patients who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Women with breast cancer adapt well despite potential negative outcomes, and survivors even report better QOL than they estimate for most people.

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