Date of Conferral





Public Health


Mary L. Gutierrez


African American breast cancer survivors are at a greater risk of experiencing disparities in mortality, treatment, and quality of life. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the impact that breast cancer had on the quality of life of African American breast cancer survivors from a psychosocial, physical, spiritual, and economic perspective. Face-to-face, in-depth interviews were conducted with 9 volunteers who met the eligibility criteria of being breast cancer survivors of African American decent. The sample of survivors ranged in ages 45 to 80 and was between 6 to 30 years postdiagnosis. Giorgi's phenomenological method was used to extract themes or meaning units. Thematic analyses led to 4 established quality of life categories and 2 empowerment emerging themes. The quality of life categories were psychosocial (body image, acceptance), physical (complications of treatment), spiritual (reliance of God), and economic (insured and uninsured). The empowerment categories and emerging themes were formal social networks (whether a sense of empowerment was encouraged), keep moving, and support from other survivors. The final empowerment category was informal social networks-whether a sense of empowerment was encouraged (friends and family was supportive, husband not involved in care). Positive social change implications include providing African American breast cancer survivors information on social networks to achieve a sense of support.