The intersectionality of gender and poverty on symptom suffering among adolescents with cancer

Maureen E. Lyon, Yao I. Cheng, Jennifer Needle, Sarah Friebert, Justin N. Baker, Jiji Jiang, Jichuan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: To determine if the intersectionality of gender and poverty is associated with health disparities among adolescents with cancer. We hypothesized unobserved latent classes of patients exist with respect to cancer-related symptoms; and class classification varies by gender–poverty combinations. Procedure: Cross-sectional data were collected among adolescents with cancer and families (N = 126 dyads) at four tertiary pediatric hospitals. Adolescents were aged 14–21 years, English speaking, cancer diagnosis, not developmentally delayed, psychotic, homicidal, suicidal, or severely depressed. Latent class analysis and multinomial logit models were used for analysis. Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) pediatric symptom measures, Short forms, evaluated anxiety, depressive symptoms, pain interference, and fatigue. Family-reported household income used 2016 Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guidelines. Results: Three distinct groups of patients were identified using PROMIS symptom patterns: High Distress-25%; High Physical/Low Psychological Distress-14%; and Low Distress-62%. Female adolescents living in households with incomes at or below the 2016 FPL had 30 times the odds of being classified in the High Distress class (higher probabilities of experiencing anxiety, depressive symptoms, pain interference, and fatigue) compared to those in the High Physical/Low Psychological Distress class (female and poverty: AOR = 30.27, 95% CI 1.23, 735.10), and this was statistically significant (β = 3.41, 95% CI 0.21, 6.60; p =.04) but not compared to those in Low Distress. Conclusion: Adolescent females with cancer with households in poverty had significantly greater odds of experiencing high symptom distress, compared to those with high physical but low psychological distress. More comprehensive screening and intervention, as needed, may decrease disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere29144
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Pediatric Blood & Cancer published by Wiley Periodicals LLC


  • adolescents
  • cancer
  • gender
  • poverty
  • symptoms


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