Introduction: Few studies have examined the association of geography and quality of life (QOL) among breast cancer patients, particularly differences between Appalachian and non-Appalachian Kentucky women, which is important given the cancer and socioeconomic disparities present in Appalachia.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine whether women with breast cancer residing in Appalachian Kentucky experience poorer health outcomes in regards to depression, stress, QOL, and spiritual wellbeing, relative to those living in non-Appalachian Kentucky after adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, and health-related factors.
Methods: Women, aged 18–79, recruited from the Kentucky Cancer Registry between 2009 and 2013 with an incident, primary breast cancer diagnosis completed a telephone interview within 12 months of diagnosis. In this cross-sectional study, sociodemographic characteristics and mental and physical health status were assessed, including number of comorbid conditions, symptoms of depression and stress, and QOL.
Results: Among 1245 women with breast cancer, 334 lived in Appalachia and 911 in non-Appalachian counties of Kentucky. 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 comorbid conditions, more symptoms of stress in the past month, and lower Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast scores compared to non-Appalachian residence.
Implications: 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. Policy-, provider-, and individual-level implications are discussed.
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Vanderpool RC, Coker AL, Bush HM, Cprek SE. Disparities in quality of life by Appalachian-designation among women with breast cancer. J Appalach Health 2019;1(2):56-68. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0102.06.