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J Clin Oncol. 2002 Oct 1;20(19):4050-64.

Quality of life of women with recurrent breast cancer and their family members.

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  • 1University of Michigan School of Nursing, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.



Little information is available about the effects of recurrent breast cancer on the quality of life of women and their family members. The present study assessed patients' and family members' quality of life within 1 month after recurrence, and effects of multiple factors on quality-of-life scores.


Patient/family member dyads (N = 189) participated in this study. A stress-appraisal model guided selection of person factors, social/family factors, illness-related factors, appraisal factors, and quality of life, measured with psychometrically sound instruments. Quality of life was measured with both generic (Medical Outcomes Study SF-36) and cancer-specific (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy) scales.


Patients reported significant impairments in physical, functional, and emotional well-being. Family members reported significant impairments in their own emotional well-being. Structural equation modeling revealed that self-efficacy, social support, and family hardiness had positive effects on quality of life, whereas symptom distress, concerns, hopelessness, and negative appraisal of illness or caregiving had detrimental effects. Study variables accounted for a sizable amount of variance in patients' and family members' physical and mental dimensions of quality of life (72% to 81%). Contrary to findings observed in studies of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and spouses, little relationship was found between recurrent patients' and family members' quality of life.


Women with recurrent breast cancer are in need of programs to assist them with the severe effects of the disease on their quality of life. Programs need to include family members to help counteract the negative effects of the recurrent disease on their mental health, and to enable them to continue as effective caregivers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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