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PURPOSE: Research in the area of cultural response pattern on questionnaires in the oncological setting and direct cross-cultural comparisons are lacking. This study examined response pattern in the reporting of depressive symptoms in Chinese and US women with breast cancer. We hypothesized that Chinese women are less likely to endorse positive affect items compared to their US counterparts. Additionally, we explored cultural differences in the association between positive affect and QOL. METHODS: Secondary analyses of baseline assessments of two mind-body intervention studies for women with breast cancer undergoing radiotherapy in the USA (N = 62) and China (N = 97) are presented. All participants completed measures of depressive symptoms (CES-D) and cancer-specific QOL (FACT-B). We examined cultural differences on positive and negative affect items on the CES-D. RESULTS: Controlling for demographic factors, ANCOVA revealed a significant cultural difference in positive (F = 7.99, p = 0.005) but not negative affect (p = 0.82) with Chinese women reporting lower positive affect compared to US women (Chinese = 6.97 vs. US = 8.31). There was also a significant cultural difference (F = 3.94, p = 0.03) in the association between positive affect and QOL so that lower positive affect was more strongly associated with worse emotional well-being in Chinese (beta = 0.57, p < 0.0001) than US women (beta = 0.35, p < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Chinese women reported lower positive affect compared to US women and lower levels of positive affect were more strongly associated with worse QOL. Special attention is needed when examining mental health in different cultures to ascertain effective delivery of clinical services to those in need.

OBJECTIVE: It has been speculated that cancer survivors in Asia may have lower quality of life (QOL) compared with their Western counterparts. However, no studies have made international comparisons in QOL using a comprehensive measure. This study aimed to compare Chinese breast cancer survivors' QOL with US counterparts and examine if demographic and medical factors were associated with QOL across groups. METHOD: The sample consisted of 159 breast cancer patients (97 Chinese and 62 American) who completed the Functional Assessment for Cancer Therapy Breast Cancer (FACT-B) scale before the start of radiotherapy in Shanghai, China and Houston, USA. RESULTS: Higher income was associated with higher QOL total scores in both Chinese and American cancer patients, but QOL was not significantly associated with other factors including age, education, disease stage, mastectomy, and chemotherapy. Consistent with hypotheses, compared to their US counterparts, Chinese breast cancer survivors reported lower QOL and all four subdimensions including functional well-being (FWB), physical well-being (PWB), emotional well-being (EWB), and social well-being (SWB); they also reported more breast cancer-specific concerns (BCS). Differences were also clinically significant for Functional Assessment for Cancer Therapy General (FACT-G) scale total scores and the FWB subscale. After controlling for demographic and medical covariates, these differences remained except for the SWB and BCS. Furthermore, Chinese breast cancer survivors receiving chemotherapy reported significantly lower FACT-G scores than those who did not, but this difference did not emerge among US breast cancer survivors. DISCUSSION: Chinese breast cancer survivors reported poorer QOL on multiple domains compared to US women. Findings indicate that better strategies are needed to help improve the QOL of Chinese breast cancer survivors, especially those who underwent chemotherapy.