Prior research has used focus group methodology to investigate cultural factors impacting the breast cancer experience of women of various ethnicities including African-Americans; however, this work has not specifically addressed treatment decision-making. This study identifies key issues faced by African-American women diagnosed with breast cancer regarding treatment decisions. We used an interpretive-descriptive study design based on qualitative data from three focus groups (n = 14) representing a population of African-American women in central Pennsylvania. Participants were asked to think back to when they were diagnosed with breast cancer and their visit with the breast surgeon. Questions were asked about the actual visit, treatment choices offered, sources of information, and whether the women felt prepared for the surgery and subsequent treatments. The prompts triggered memories and encouraged open discussion. The most important themes identified were fear across the breast cancer disease trajectory, a preference for visual information for understanding the diagnosis and surgical treatment, and support systems relying on family and friends, rather than the formal health-care system. Our results have implications for practice strategies and development of educational interventions that will help breast cancer patients better understand their diagnosis and treatment options, encourage their participation in treatment decision-making, and provide psychosocial support for those at high risk for emotional distress.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health