Impact of comorbidities and treatment burden on general well-being among women’s cancer survivors

R. T. Anderson, D. T. Eton, F. T. Camacho, E. M. Kennedy, C. M. Brenin, P. B. DeGuzman, K. F. Carter, T. Guterbock, K. J. Ruddy, W. F. Cohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Gains in cancer detection and treatment have meant that more patients are now living with both cancer and other chronic health conditions, which may become burdensome. We used the Patient Experience with Treatment and Self-Management (PETS) framework to study challenges in self-management and its impact on health among survivors of women’s cancers who are caring for other chronic health conditions. Methods: Applicability of the PETS domains among survivors of women’s cancers with comorbidities was assessed in focus groups to create the study survey. Women surviving primary breast, cervical, ovarian, or endometrial/uterine cancer treated between 6 months and 3 years prior at two large healthcare systems in Virginia were mailed study invitation letters to complete a telephone-based survey. The survey included questions on cancer treatment history, comorbid conditions prior to cancer, treatment and self-management experiences, health literacy, financial security, and items on self-management activities, self-management difficulties and self-management impact (i.e., role/social activity limitations and physical/mental exhaustion). Additionally, general health was assessed with items from the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS). Hierarchical regression models and path analysis were used to examine correlates of self-management impact on general physical health (GPH) and mental health (GMH). Results: Of 1448 patients contacted by mail, 274 (26%) returned an interest form providing their consent to be contacted. Of these, 183 completed the survey. Reasons for non-completion included ineligibility (42), unable to be reached (33) and refusal (6). The majority were survivors of breast (58%) or endometrial/uterine cancer (28%), and 45% resided in non-urban locations. After adjusting for age, race, and cancer type, survivors with higher self-management difficulty reported higher self-management impact, which was associated with lower perceived general health. Reports of higher self-management impact was associated with being single or unmarried, white race, fulltime employed, higher financial insecurity, lower health literacy and more comorbidities. In path analysis, self-management impact was a significant mediator in the association of comorbidity and financial insecurity on GPH and GMH. Conclusions: Among survivors of women’s cancer, pre-diagnosis comorbidity, health literacy, and financial security are associated with psychosocial impact of self-management and general physical and mental health in the 6 month to 3-year period after cancer treatment has ended. The impact of self-management on psychosocial functioning is an important factor among cancer survivors caring for multiple chronic health conditions. This study provides evidence on the importance of assessing cancer survivors’ self-management difficulties such as in future interventions to promote health and wellness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalJournal of Patient-Reported Outcomes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Cancer survivorship
  • Comorbidity
  • Financial insecurity
  • General health
  • Health literacy
  • Self-management impact
  • Treatment burden

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of comorbidities and treatment burden on general well-being among women’s cancer survivors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this