An Exploratory Analysis of Fear of Recurrence among African-American Breast Cancer Survivors

Fear of recurrence (FOR) is a psychological concern that has been studied extensively in cancer survivors but has not been adequately examined in African-American breast cancer survivors. This exploratory study describes the extent and nature of FOR in African-American breast cancer survivors. FOR is examined in relation to socio-demographic characteristics, treatment-related characteristics, psychological distress, and quality of life (QOL). Participants completed questionnaires assessing FOR, psychological distress, QOL, and demographic and treatment characteristics. Pearson r correlations, t tests, and ANOVAs were used to determine the association between FOR and demographic and treatment-related characteristics. Hierarchical multiple regression models were performed to investigate the degree to which FOR dimensions account for the variance in QOL and psychological distress. Fifty-one African-American breast cancer survivors participated in this study. The mean age of participants was 64.24 (SD = 12.3). Overall fears as well as concerns about death and health were rated as low to moderate. Role worries and womanhood worries were very low. Inverse relationships were observed between age and FOR dimensions. FOR was positively correlated with measures of psychological distress and negatively correlated with QOL. FOR significantly accounted for a portion of the variance in QOL and distress after controlling for other variables. This study suggests that African-American women in this sample demonstrated some degree of FOR. Results indicate that FOR among African-American breast cancer survivors decreases with age and time since diagnosis and co-occurs with psychological distress as well as diminished quality of life.