PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To describe the quality of life (QOL) of women with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and examine relationships of demographic, clinical, health status, and meaning of illness (MOI) characteristics to QOL. DESIGN: Descriptive, cross-sectional survey. SETTING: In-person interviews in homes or research offices. SAMPLE: 217 women with NSCLC (greater than 6 months and less than 5 years since diagnosis, mean = 2 years); 19% of the women had advanced disease. The mean age was 65 years. METHODS: Assessments of QOL with cancer-specific (QOL Scale-Patient Version) and generic (Short Form-36) self-reports, health status (i.e., number and type of comorbid conditions, presence of depressed mood using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, smoking status), and MOI (positive and negative perceptions). MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES: QOL, health status, MOI, and demographic and clinical characteristics. FINDINGS: Serious disruptions in psychological and social aspects of QOL were common. Depressed mood, negative conceptualizations of MOI, and younger age explained 37% of the variance of global QOL and were correlated with poorer physical, psychological, and social dimensions of QOL. Thirty-six percent reported negative ascriptions of MOI; 35% experienced depressed mood; more than 75% reported distress with their diagnosis, family distress, and impact of sexual function as lowering their QOL; and 67% reported comorbid conditions, the most common being chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (31%). CONCLUSIONS: Women with lung cancer experience a range of disruptions in QOL, and more than a third associate lung cancer with negative meaning. Younger age, depressed mood, and number of comorbid diseases are risk factors for negative QOL. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING: These findings support the importance of assessing the QOL, MOI, and health status of women with lung cancer even after treatment is completed. Younger women may be at higher risk for disruptions.
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