Latinos are the fastest-growing and largest ethnic minority group in the United States. Projections indicate that 128 million Latinos will reside in the United States by 2050, with one in three Latinos receiving a diagnosis of cancer during his/her lifetime. Latino cancer survivors have lower quality of life, experience distress due to strained spousal and family relationships, have poorer physical health, and have more depression, pain, and fatigue when compared to non-Latinos. In addition, emotional and mental well-being between Latino survivors and their partners is related, with partners also experiencing increased distress and physical symptoms. Research has shown that couples-based psychosocial programs improve the quality of life, emotional and physical health for cancer survivors and their partners. Yet, much of the research in this area has focused on non-Hispanic Whites. Features of Latino culture may influence and interact with social, psychosocial, healthcare, and clinical factors that influence cancer-related outcomes. The team’s goal is to add to this literature and develop a program for Latina breast cancer survivors and their partners that is culturally meaningful and relevant and responds to their needs and concerns.
Specifically, the team plans to culturally adapt a widely available and effective online couple intervention, OurRelationship (ORI), for Latina breast cancer survivors and their intimate partners. The online OR program—which can be done on a smartphone, tablet, or computer—was developed to serve as an online tool to help couples solve a specific relationship problem they selected. The team will adapt the OR program to be useful for Latina breast cancer survivors and their intimate partners using feedback from focus groups with patients, community partners, and research advisors. Once the team has completed its adaptation, the team plans to test the impact of the adapted program, Juntos Después del Cancer (JDC), using a type of study called a randomized controlled trial where participants will be randomly allocated to either receive the culturally adapted JDC or usual care. The team is interested in learning if couples in the group that are assigned to the JDC program report changes in their relationship functioning, psychological functioning (depression, anxiety, and perceived stress), and cancer-related quality of life (pain, fatigue, body image, and quality of life) compared to couples who are assigned to the UC group.
Through this comparative study, the team expects to establish effective strategies that can be implemented in clinic and community settings to improve psychological functioning, relationship functioning, and quality of life. The team is enthusiastic about the potential for the JDC program to easily reach Latina cancer survivors around the nation, due to the online format and ease of access from any location. Throughout the project, the team will continue to engage its local partners to ensure that the study procedures and outcomes are meaningful to all stakeholders.
The team is using patient-centered approaches to offer a culturally relevant web-based program that cancer survivors and their partners can access from the comfort of their homes.