What mediates the racial/ethnic disparity in psychosocial stress among breast cancer patients?

Cancer Causes Control. 2021 Feb 9. doi: 10.1007/s10552-021-01392-7. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Prior studies have observed greater levels of psychosocial stress (PSS) among non-Hispanic (nH) African American and Hispanic women when compared to nH White patients after a breast cancer diagnosis. We aimed to determine the independent and interdependent roles of socioeconomic position (SEP) and unmet support in the racial disparity in PSS among breast cancer patients.

METHODS: Participants were recruited from the Breast Cancer Care in Chicago study (n = 989). For all recently diagnosed breast cancer patients, aged 25-79, income, education, and tract-level disadvantage and affluence were summed to create a standardized socioeconomic position (SEP) score. Three measures of PSS related to loneliness, perceived stress, and psychological consequences of a breast cancer diagnosis were defined based on previously validated scales. Five domains of unmet social support needs (emotional, spiritual, informational, financial, and practical) were defined from interviews. We conducted path models in MPlus to estimate the extent to which PSS disparities were mediated by SEP and unmet social support needs.

RESULTS: Black and Hispanic patients reported greater PSS compared to white patients and greater unmet social support needs (p = 0.001 for all domains). Virtually all of the disparity in PSS could be explained by SEP. A substantial portion of the mediating influence of SEP was further transmitted by unmet financial and practical needs among Black patients and by unmet emotional needs for Hispanic patients.

CONCLUSIONS: SEP appeared to be a root cause of the racial/ethnic disparities in PSS within our sample. Our findings further suggest that different interventions may be necessary to alleviate the burden of SEP for nH AA (i.e., more financial support) and Hispanic patients (i.e., more emotional support).

PMID:33559770 | DOI:10.1007/s10552-021-01392-7