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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Kentucky: Understanding Quality of Life Indicators for Appalachian Women with Breast Cancer

A research team based at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health undertook a study to determine whether women with breast cancer residing in Appalachian Kentucky experience poorer health outcomes in regards to depression, stress, quality of life (QOL), and spiritual wellbeing, relative to those living in non-Appalachian Kentucky after adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, and health-related factors. The results of their investigation appear in the Journal of Appalachian Health.

From 2009 to 2013, investigators recruited from the Kentucky Cancer Registry a total of 1,245 women ages 18 to 79 with a primary breast cancer diagnosis. Among the group, 334 lived in Appalachia and 911 in non-Appalachian counties in Kentucky. Each woman completed a telephone interview within 12 months of diagnosis. The cross-sectional study assessed sociodemographic characteristics as well as mental and physical health status.

Appalachian breast cancer patients differed from non-Appalachian patients on race, education, income, health insurance status, rurality, smoking, and stage at diagnosis. In unadjusted analysis, Appalachian residence was associated with having significantly more co-morbid conditions, more symptoms of stress in the past month, and lower Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast scores compared to non-Appalachian residence. However, adjustment for sociodemographic and health-related differences by region appear to explain geographic differences in these poorer QOL indicators for women living in Appalachian Kentucky relative to non-Appalachian Kentucky.

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