Two new studies published this week looked at two important concerns of women battling breast cancer: quality of life and quality care.
Improving Quality of Life
In a study of 240 women with non-metastatic breast cancer, University of Miami researchers found that exercise can help improve the mental and physical well-being of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
The women who were more active reported less fatigue, depression and a better quality of life than women who were less active.
The study authors explained that women who are physically active may also have more confidence in their own ability to continue with family-related, household, work-related, or social activities, which bring meaning and satisfaction to their lives.
The same researchers previously found that stress management also improves women’s response to breast cancer treatment.
Quality Care—Says Who?
Hospitals and healthcare providers who conduct patient surveys to assess the quality of care they provide may want to take note of a recent study conducted by researchers in New York who interviewed 374 women treated for early stage breast cancer.
The women were surveyed over the phone when they first entered the study, and again six months later. The researchers then looked at the women's medical records to see what care they received.
They found that the definition of “quality care” for patients was different than that of the healthcare institution treating them. While hospitals often rate care based on whether medical guidelines and treatment protocols were followed, patients viewed quality care based on their experience of getting care and by how much they trusted their doctors.
For example, just over half (55%) of the women said the care they received was "excellent," whereas 88% actually got good-quality care in line with medical guidelines.
The researchers found that what was important to women was the ease of receiving care and good communication with their caregivers.
Women who said they received "excellent" care were more likely to report excellent treatment by medical staff, to say they knew which doctor to go to with questions or concerns and to say they had good trust and communication with their doctor. They were less likely to mistrust the medical system.