Cross-sectional study of psychosocial well-being among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual gynecologic cancer survivors

Alexandra Schefter, Lauren Thomaier, Patricia Jewett, Katherine Brown, Ashley E Stenzel, Anne Blaes, Deanna Teoh, Rachel I. Vogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Delays in care and increased risk for mental health diagnoses put individuals identifying as a sexual minority with cancer at risk for decreased quality of life. Aim: To assess psychosocial health among sexual minority gynecologic cancer survivors, we compared self-reported quality of life and psychosocial measures between individuals diagnosed with gynecologic cancers identifying as lesbian/gay/bisexual (LGB) and heterosexual. Methods and Results: English-speaking adults with gynecologic cancers were invited to participate in an ongoing cohort survey study. Quality of life and psychosocial measures included the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General, Distress Thermometer (distress), Patient Health Questionnaire-8 (depression), General Anxiety Disorder-7 (anxiety), and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for DSM-5 (post-traumatic stress disorder; PTSD). Measures were compared by self-reported sexual orientation (heterosexual vs. LGB) using descriptive statistics (frequencies and means) and linear and logistic regression models, adjusting for college education. Of 814 patients invited, 457 enrolled (56.1%) and 401 (92.6%) completed the survey and provided information on their sexuality. All but one self-identified as cisgender women and 22 (5.5%) as LGB. LGB participants were more likely to have completed college (68.2% vs. 40.1%, p =.009) but were otherwise similar across demographic and clinical characteristics. Quality of life and distress scores were similar between groups. LGB participants, compared to heterosexual, reported higher rates of depression (31.8% vs. 10.6%, adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 4.1 [95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.6–11.0], p =.004), anxiety (25.0% vs. 7.1%, adjusted OR = 5.4 [95% CI: 1.7–16.7], p=.004), and PTSD (13.6% vs. 3.5%, adjusted OR = 4.2 [95% CI: 1.1–16.3], p =.04). Conclusion: LGB participants reported poorer emotional health following a gynecologic cancer diagnosis than heterosexual participants. Our data suggest this population may need additional resources and support during and after their cancer diagnosis. Future work is needed to identify additional risk factors and the underlying sources of these disparities in order to improve patient care and wellness in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1461
JournalCancer Reports
Issue number2
Early online dateMay 31 2021
StatePublished - May 31 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota by a National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute grant (P30 CA77598). Support for the use of REDCap was provided by a National Institutes of Healths National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences grant (UL1TR002494). A.E.S. is supported by National Institutes of Health Cancer Health Disparities T32 Training Program (T32CA163184). R.I.V. is supported by a Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program Ovarian Cancer Academy Early Career Investigator Award (OC180392 W81XWH‐19‐1‐0013). The funders had no role in the implementation of this study or presentation of results.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Cancer Reports published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • disparities
  • emotional health
  • gynecologic cancers
  • quality of life
  • sexual minority
  • sexual orientation


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