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Ethnocultural Women's Experiences of Breast Cancer: A Qualitative Meta-study

Howard, A. Fuchsia MSN, RN, PhD Student; Balneaves, Lynda G. PhD, RN; Bottorff, Joan L. PhD, RN

Cancer Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000281737.33232.3c
Articles
Abstract

A growing number of studies have been conducted that explore the breast cancer experiences of women from diverse ethnocultural groups. To advance knowledge and provide a foundation for future research, a synthesis was conducted of 15 qualitative research studies focusing on women from ethnocultural groups diagnosed with breast cancer. A qualitative meta-study approach was used that included analysis of the theoretical orientations and methodological approaches underlying the research, and an interpretive synthesis of research findings. Ethnocultural groups represented in the studies included Asian American, Aboriginal, Hispanic, and African American women. The synthesis revealed diverse experiences within and among these ethnocultural groups represented in 5 major themes: (a) the "othered" experience of a breast cancer diagnosis, (b) the treatment experience as "other," (c) losses associated with breast cancer, (d) the family context of breast cancer experiences, and (e) coping with cancer through spirituality and community involvement. The integration of findings from the 15 studies also revealed how methodological and theoretical approaches to conducting this research influenced understandings of the experiences of breast cancer. Further experiential breast cancer research with ethnocultural groups is needed, as well as the use of research methods that illuminate the ways that ethnicity, class, age, and gender relations are played out in healthcare settings.

In Brief

A growing number of studies have been conducted that explore the breast cancer experiences of women from diverse ethnocultural groups. To advance knowledge and provide a foundation for future research, a synthesis was conducted of 15 qualitative research studies focusing on women from ethnocultural groups diagnosed with breast cancer. A qualitative meta-study approach was used that included analysis of the theoretical orientations and methodological approaches underlying the research, and an interpretive synthesis of research findings. Ethnocultural groups represented in the studies included Asian American, Aboriginal, Hispanic, and African American women. The synthesis revealed diverse experiences within and among these ethnocultural groups represented in 5 major themes: (a) the "othered" experience of a breast cancer diagnosis, (b) the treatment experience as "other," (c) losses associated with breast cancer, (d) the family context of breast cancer experiences, and (e) coping with cancer through spirituality and community involvement. The integration of findings from the 15 studies also revealed how methodological and theoretical approaches to conducting this research influenced understandings of the experiences of breast cancer. Further experiential breast cancer research with ethnocultural groups is needed, as well as the use of research methods that illuminate the ways that ethnicity, class, age, and gender relations are played out in healthcare settings.

Author Information

From the School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Ms Howard, Dr Balneaves); and the Faculty of Health and Social Development, University of British Columbia, Okanagan (Dr Bottorff).

Corresponding author: A. Fuchsia Howard, MSN, RN, PhD Student, School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, #302-6190 Agronomy Road, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3 (e-mail: fuchsia@telus.net).

Accepted for publication March 22, 2007.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.