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Variations in the Health Needs of Breast Cancer Survivors (Heterosexual survivors)

Ulrike Boehmer at Boston University
Study abstract

The cancer burden is unequally distributed in the population, including the social and emotional impact on those who have received a cancer diagnosis. Sexual minority women (SMW) with breast cancer are recognized as an underserved population, and are assumed to suffer worse cancer outcomes, such as worse quality of life (QOL). We have conducted two studies on this topic, one of which did not find any differences in QOL between SMW and heterosexual breast cancer survivors. Our second study confirmed that SMW have worse QOL after cancer compared to heterosexual women. This inconsistent information hinders future efforts to develop programs to improve SMW's QOL as it is unclear whether there is a need for programs. The purpose of this study is to resolve the inconsistency.

This study has two specific aims: 1. To examine the relationship of patient-derived and cancer-derived factors to QOL among cancer survivors of different sexual orientations. 2. To determine the contribution of sexual minority factors on the QOL of SMW cancer survivors, after patient- and cancer-derived factors have been considered.

Study review

This study at Boston University School of Public Health, in collaboration with researchers at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, is gathering information about the well-being and quality of life of breast cancer survivors to develop programs and services designed to reduce health disparities. The researchers wanted to enroll up to 600 lesbian and bisexual women and 600 heterosexual women. The first Call to Action for this study, recruiting lesbian and bisexual women, was sent to Army of Women members on October 19, 2011. The second Call to Action, recruiting heterosexual women, was sent to Army of Women members on March 14, 2012. The researchers closed enrollment on June 26, 2012, after the Army of Women provided them with 320 lesbian or bisexual women and 859 heterosexual women who were interested in enrolling in the study.