English proficiency, symptoms, and quality of life in Vietnamese-and Chinese-American breast cancer survivors

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Context: In the United States, limited English proficiency has been shown to have a negative influence on effective functioning in the health care environment. Minority immigrant populations, therefore, may be especially vulnerable to poorer symptom management and quality of life (QOL) during and after cancer treatment, given their limited language skills. Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in Asian-American women but little is known about its adverse consequences in this population. Objectives: We examined the extent to which English proficiency was associated with symptoms and QOL in Chinese- (n = 72) and Vietnamese-American (n = 25) breast cancer survivors in Houston, Texas. Methods: Data were collected through face-to-face interviews. Symptoms and QOL were assessed using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale and the Quality of Life Instrument-Breast Cancer Patient Version (QOL-BC), respectively. Results: The most commonly reported severe symptoms (≥7 on a 0-10 scale) were lack of well-being (38%), fatigue (26%), pain (18%), lack of appetite (14%), anxiety (14%), and feeling depressed (14%). For the QOL-BC, the physical (mean = 6.78; standard deviation [SD] = 1.28) and spiritual subscales (mean = 6.01; SD = 2.18) had the highest and lowest mean scores, respectively. Of the whole sample, 33% reported having the ability to understand, read, speak, and write in English very well. English proficiency was significantly associated with symptom distress (coefficient = -0.257; P = 0.011) and QOL (coefficient = -0.390; P = 0.002). Conclusion: English proficiency has a significant impact on symptom distress and QOL. These findings may help the development of services to meet the unique needs of Vietnamese- and Chinese-American breast cancer survivors. © 2011 U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.




Yi, J. K., Swartz, M. D., & Reyes-Gibby, C. C. (2011). English proficiency, symptoms, and quality of life in Vietnamese-and Chinese-American breast cancer survivors. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 42(1), 83–92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2010.09.014

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