Addressing the unique psychosocial barriers to breast cancer treatment experienced by African-American women through integrative navigation
African-American women face a disproportionally high breast cancer mortality rate and a significantly low five-year survival rate after breast cancer treatment. This study investigated, through a series of focus groups, how 32 African-American women (N = 32) breast cancer patients and survivors managed their cancer-related health needs. Participants also reported important barriers to care including problematic interactions with medical professionals, challenges in intimate relations, difficulties in handling the stigma and myths about breast cancer, and the psychological challenges that they faced. A patient navigation model was implemented at an eastern urban hospital that emphasized integrative therapies such as meditation, nutritional instruction, and yoga. Follow-up telephone interviews with 37 additional African-American participants (N = 37) indicated the rating of effectiveness to be at 3.8 to 3.9 out of 4 for the integrative patient navigation program. Over half of the survivors reported using some complementary techniques after treatment was completed, thus suggesting a long-term improvement in their quality of life as a result of the integrative techniques.
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