Quality of Life among African American Prostate Cancer Survivors and Their Partners: A Multilevel Perspective

Posted June 17, 2022

Dalnim Cho, Ph.D., M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas

Dr. Dalnim Cho
Dr. Dalnim Cho

Black people are more likely to have worse outcomes with prostate cancer compared to other racial groups. Research attempting to alleviate these health disparities often do not address issues related to the quality of life of a patient. Overall wellness, achieved by a healthier lifestyle, has been shown to positively impact prostate cancer mortality and physical fitness after treatment. However, these specific effects on Black patients have not been extensively studied. Due to influential family ties, they may be more susceptible to unhealthy behaviors if there is a lack of spousal support. Thus, improvement in the health of the partner may benefit the prostate cancer patient, ultimately improving patient quality of life and long-term outcomes. To address this, Dalnim Cho at the MD Anderson Cancer Center received funding from an FY18 Health Disparity Fellowship Award to study the influence of the spouse on the quality of life in Black prostate cancer patients to improve survivorship of the patient and promote wellbeing in both patients and partners.

Dr. Cho and her research team conducted health and lifestyle surveys of Black heterosexual couples. Data from these surveys suggest that there is high concordance of cancer-related lifestyle factors (BMI, fruit and vegetable intake, red meat intake and alcohol use) between husbands and wives. Dietary habits such as eating and drinking are highly connected between spouses as they are more likely to eat and socialize together. Couples are also more likely to have similar exercise habits and share fitness goals together. A couple-based lifestyle or weight management intervention that targets both male and female spouses may be promising, as each partner can support one another through the journey.

Next, they interviewed urologists, oncology nurses, and physician assistants, to explore their opinions on providing family-focused care. The research team found that although healthcare providers were aware of the importance of spouses’ roles in patient health, they were not sure how quality of life could be enhanced for spouses during their clinical encounters. One issue was how the providers narrowly defined “quality of life”, which was limited to an evaluation of symptoms or physical impairments in the patient. The survey results highlighted a need for clearer health assessments for patients during initial diagnoses, throughout treatment, and especially during follow-up visits. However, providers were willing to receive brief educational sessions to learn more about how to address and convey issues surrounding lifestyle behaviors of both the patients and their spouse. These results suggest that assessing the quality of life for both patients and their spouses, as well as educating healthcare providers about the connectivity of health in the couple, can be implemented in patient care settings.

Taken together, these studies show that family-focused care is important for Black men for their prostate health. The next step will be to further develop and implement interventions that target prostate cancer survivors, partners, and healthcare providers to improve the quality of life and overall health of Black men with prostate cancer.

Public and Technical Abstracts: Quality of Life Among African American Prostate Cancer Survivors and Their Partners: A Multilevel Perspective

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Last updated Friday, June 17, 2022