Racial and ethnic disparities in post-traumatic stress and illness coherence in breast cancer survivors with comorbid diabetes

Melissa Mazor, Juan P. Wisnivesky, Mita Goel, Yael Tobi Harris, Jenny J. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Context: Breast cancer survivors (BCS) with comorbid diabetes mellitus (DM) and of racial and ethnic minority status are at higher risk of cancer-related post-traumatic stress (PTS) and severe illness beliefs. These affective and cognitive outcomes influence self-management and treatment adherence in patients with chronic conditions, yet little is known regarding the interplay of these processes in diverse BCS with comorbid DM. Objectives: The purposes of this study were to (1) describe racial and ethnic differences in cancer-related PTS and illness perceptions; and (2) examine the relationship between PTS and illness perceptions in BCS with comorbid DM. Methods: Female BCS with DM completed measures of cancer related stress (Impact of Events Scale-Revised) and cancer and DM illness perception (Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised). Logistic regression analyses were used to assess the association between PTS, race and illness perceptions. Results: Of the 135 BCS with comorbid DM, the mean (standard deviation) age was 65.3 (7.1) years, 38% were Black, 31% Non-Hispanic White (NHW), 13% Hispanic/Latina, and 18% were “other.” Minority women were more likely to report cancer-related PTS (p < 0.01). In adjusted analyses, PTS was associated with chronicity (odds ratio [OR] = 9.79, p = 0.005), time-cycle (OR = 6.71, p = 0.001), negative consequences (OR = 3.95, p = 0.018), and negative emotional impact (OR = 12.63, p < 0.001) of cancer. Conclusion: Minority BCS with comorbid DM report higher rates of cancer-related PTS and lower cancer illness coherence relative to NHW survivors. Cancer-related PTS influences cancer and DM illness perceptions. Culturally sensitive care is needed to improve these outcomes in minority BCS. Key Message: This article presents findings from a cross sectional cohort of an understudied population of racially and ethnically diverse BCS with comorbid diabetes. The results indicate that the occurrence of PTS is significantly higher in racial and ethnic minority women and is strongly associated with more severe illness perceptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1789-1798
Number of pages10
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • breast cancer survivors
  • cancer disparities
  • comorbidities
  • illness perceptions
  • post-traumatic stress
  • psycho-oncology


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