Research Paper| Volume 14, ISSUE 2, 101444, March 2023

Psychosocial needs of older patients with metastatic breast cancer treated at community centers

Published:February 15, 2023DOI:



      Psychosocial status contributes to overall quality of life (QOL) for patients with cancer as psychosocial distress is commonly seen in this population. We sought to describe the psychosocial needs of older adults with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) treated in the community. We evaluated the correlation between the patient's psychosocial status and the presence of other geriatric abnormalities in this patient population.

      Materials and Methods

      This is a secondary analysis of a completed study evaluating older adults (≥65 years) with MBC treated at community practices who received a geriatric assessment (GA). This analysis evaluated psychosocial factors collected during GA, including depression assessed by Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), perceived social support (SS) assessed by Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey (MOS), and objective social supportassessed by demographic variables (living situation and marital status). Perceived SS was further subdivided into tangible social support (TSS) and emotional social support (ESS). Kruskal-Wallis tests, Wilcoxon tests, and Spearman's correlations were used to assess the relationship between psychosocial factors, patient characteristics, and geriatric abnormalities.


      One hundred older patients with MBC were enrolled and completed GA with a median age of 73 years (65–90). Almost half of the participants (47%) were either single, divorced, or widowed and 38% lived alone, demonstrating a significant number of patients with objective social support deficits. Patients with HER2+ or triple negative MBC had lower overall SS scores compared to patients with ER/PR+ or HER2- MBC (p = 0.033). Patients on fourth line of therapy were more likely to screen positive for depression compared to patients on earlier lines of therapy (p = 0.047). About half (51%) of the patients indicated at least one SS deficit on the MOS. A higher GDS and lower MOS score correlated with greater total GA abnormalities (p = 0.016). Evidence of depression correlated with poor functional status, decreased cognition, and a high number of co-morbidities (p < 0.005). Abnormalities in functional status, cognition, and high GDS are associated with lower ESS (p = 0.025,0.031,0.006 respectively).


      Psychosocial deficits are common among older adults with MBC treated in the community and are associated with the presence of other geriatric abnormalities. These deficits require a thorough evaluation and management to optimize treatment outcomes.


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