Lung cancer remains the leading cause of death among men and women. Whereas women tend to have better survival rates and quality of life, men tend to have higher mortality rates and lower quality of life. The problem that this study addressed was the gender gap between men and women for lung cancer survival and quality of life. Using data from a larger grant funded study, results with a sample (n=182) of patients treated and recruited at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York were analyzed.
Data analyzed included socio-demographics, as well as that collected with the following: the Medical Outcome Study Health Survey (MOS-SF 36) to measure global quality of life; the Ferrans and Powers Quality of Life Index Cancer Version-III to measure patients satisfaction with their lives, and life importance; the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) to measure patients' psychological distress; and, the Functional Status Instrumental Activities of Daily Life (IADL) to measure if patients could engage in daily functional and physical activities.
The sample was composed of mostly women (64%), Caucasians (96%), and those married or with a partner (61%). Furthermore, 26% had college degrees, and were retired (61%). The mean age for this population was 69 years old.
There were no differences among men and women regarding their quality of life, physical functioning, and functional status. There were moderate associations between gender and anxiety where younger women had more anxiety than older women and men (r=-.177, p<.02). Furthermore, age and employment (p<.05) interactions were observed, such that younger, unemployed persons reported a lower Quality of Life Index (QLI).
Results from a hierarchical regression revealed that the strongest predictors for quality of life were physical functioning and psychological distress (R 2=.45, F (6, 175) = 25.6, p<.001). Those with greater physical functioning and lower psychological distress (HADS anxiety & HADS depression) had better quality of life.
Future quality of life research needs to investigate ways to assist lung cancer survivors in reducing their psychological distress and increasing their level of physical functioning as two indicators that foster quality of life.