Cancer survivors from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups who experience racism are more likely to report physical, mental, sleep, and activity issues during survivorship, researchers reported in study results published in Cancer. 

The researchers analyzed data from 48,200 survivors in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) database’s cancer survivorship and reaction to race modules. BRFSS’s reaction to race module measures the effects of physical and emotional racism. The study population was 81% White, 10% Black, 4% Hispanic, 1% Asian, 1% multiracial, 1% American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.5% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and 0.5% additional groups.  

They found that all survivors in historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups who faced physical and emotional racism were more likely to experience at least one adverse health outcome compared with non-Hispanic White survivors. Specifically, they had increases in: 

  • Poor mental health (3.51-fold) 
  • Depression (2.33-fold) 
  • Inadequate sleep (2.14-fold) 
  • Poor physical health (2.10-fold) 
  • Activity limitations (1.42-fold) 

“Our findings suggest racism is associated with poor mental and physical health in survivors of cancer,” the researchers wrote. “Improving outcomes for survivors of cancer may require screening for experienced racism.” 

Previous studies have evaluated a variety of perceived racism and discrimination screening tools, including the Perceived Racism Scale. Read ONS’s diversity, equity, and inclusion statement for oncology nurses, use tools like the Implicit Bias Huddle Card, and connect with other ONS members about the health needs of diverse patient populations in the Minority Nurses Alliance ONS Community