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Latino Cancer Survivors Enjoy Higher Quality of Life when Satisfied with Their Care

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

The study, published in Cancer, surveyed 288 Latino breast, prostate, and colon cancer survivors in San Antonio and Chicago to see how patients’ 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 non-Latino white cancer 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.

“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,” said lead author Patricia Moreno, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

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.

This 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.

“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 the study’s senior author and co-principal investigator, Frank J. Penedo, PhD, Roswell Park Professor and director of the Cancer Survivorship Institute at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

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 aspects of 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.

Additional study authors from Northwestern University include: Patricia I. Moreno, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Frank J. Penedo, PhD, Roswell Park Professor, Rina S. Fox, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Leopoldo Castillo, MA, project coordinator, Ryne Estabrook, PhD, assistant professor. Study authors from UT Health San Antonio include: Kipling J. Gallion, assistant professor; Edgar Munoz, statistician; and Arely Perez, MS, project coordinator. Study authors from Cook County Health and Hospital Systems include: Thomas Lad, MD, chairman, Courtney Hollowell, MD, chairman. Study author from the National Cancer Institute includes Sandra L. San Miguel-Majors, MS, program director.

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