Background: A culture of serious overwork in South Korea, more than other developed countries, may impact symptoms and quality of life (QOL) experienced by Korean breast cancer survivors (BCS). Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine health-related QOL and influencing factors in BCS in Seoul, Korea, who have recovered from treatment for at least 1 year and returned to normal life and work. Methods: In a cross-sectional study, 199 BCS completed a self-administered questionnaire in Seoul, Korea. Results: Mean QOL scores were lower than expected, with 49% of the variance explained by depressive symptoms, physical fatigability, cognitive impairment, and social support. Psychological distress was high (67.8%), along with anxiety (47.2%) and depressive symptoms (36.7%). Participants reported a high prevalence of physical fatigability (71.1%), sleeping an average of only 6 hours per night, with 58.9% reporting poor quality sleep. Conclusions: Quality of life was lower in Korean BCS than comparable studies in the United States, although participants received care at a premiere medical center. Depressive symptoms and anxiety were common and did not taper off over the 5 years after diagnosis, unlike BCS elsewhere. Korean survivors experienced significant physical fatigability, much higher than reported in a US study of mixed male and female cancer survivors. Overwork was not a significant predictor of QOL, although 30% of employed women reported working 45 to 90 hours weekly. Implications for Practice: Findings demonstrate the importance of continued efforts to mitigate these symptoms in clinical survivorship care, as well as future research, to provide avenues for improving QOL for BCS, particularly in Korea.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded in part by the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health (K24NR015340), the Alpha Lambda Chapter of Sigma Theta International, and the PhD Research Award from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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