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breast neoplasms, healthcare disparities, symptom assessment, treatment adherence and compliance



  1. Nugent, Bethany D.
  2. McCall, Maura K.
  3. Connolly, Mary
  4. Mazanec, Susan R.
  5. Sereika, Susan M.
  6. Bender, Catherine M.
  7. Rosenzweig, Margaret Q.


Background: The 5-year survival for Black women with breast cancer in the United States is lower than White women for stage-matched disease. Our past and ongoing work and that of others suggest that symptom incidence, cancer-related distress, and ineffective communication contribute to racial disparity in dose reduction and early therapy termination. Although race is perhaps the most studied social determinant of health, it is clear that race alone does not account for all disparities.


Objectives: The aim of the study was to present a study protocol of Black and White women prescribed breast cancer chemotherapy. The aims are to (1) examine and compare chemotherapy received/prescribed over time and in total; (2a) examine and compare symptom incidence, distress, and management and clinical encounter, including patient-centeredness of care and management experience over time and (2b) correlate symptom incidence, distress, and management experience to Aim 1; and (3) explore the effects of social determinants of health, including age, income, education, zip code, and lifetime stress exposure, on Aims 1, 2a, and 2b.


Methods: A longitudinal, repeated-measures (up to 18 time points), comparative, mixed-methods design is employed with 179 White and 179 Black women from 10 sites in Western Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio over the course of chemotherapy and for 2 years following completion of therapy.


Results: The study began in January 2018, with estimated complete data collection by late 2023.


Discussion: This study is among the first to explore the mechanistic process for racial disparity in dosage and delay across the breast cancer chemotherapy course. It will be an important contribution to the explanatory model for breast cancer treatment disparity and may advance potential mitigation strategies for racial survival disparity.