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Long-term female cancer survivors: quality of life issues and clinical implications

Wyatt, Gwen R.N., Ph.D.; Friedman, Laurie L. M.A.


The purpose of this research was to identify concerns and issues related to quality of life in long-term female cancer survivors and to discuss the implications of these issues for nursing. Data were collected by mailed questionnaire to 188 female long-term cancer survivors whose mean age was 61 years. Respondents were recruited through a Michigan tumor registry. The newly developed Long-Term Quality of Life (LTQL) instrument was used to measure quality of life in four domains: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual. We hypothesized that physical concerns would be minimal, whereas psychological, social, and spiritual areas would encompass salient issues. Our hypotheses were supported, with the lowest levels of quality of life found in the areas of spiritual/philosophical views, diet and exercise habits, and social/emotional support; the highest area of quality of life was physical, i.e., the absence of somatic concerns. Long-term survivors have resolved many of the physical concerns resulting from their illness and treatment. However, nursing interventions can still improve quality of life in the psychological, social, and spiritual areas. A multipurpose support group for survivors is recommended, including “exercise partners” to support regular exercise, group discussions of spirituality and philosophical views of life, and community service activities with women's organizations and/or newly diagnosed women.

Gwenn Wyatt is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A.

Laurie L. Friedman, M.A., is completing her doctorate in clinical psychology at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Gwen Wyatt, R.N., Ph.D., A230 Life Science Building, Michigan State University, College of Nursing, East Lansing, MI 48824, U.S.A.

Accepted for publication August 22, 1995.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers