Quality of life and living with cancer: findings from the European social survey (2014) special module on the social determinants of health

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Abstract

Background:

This study is a comparison of quality of life (QOL) of current and previous cancer victims with people who never had experienced cancer in samples from the general population from the 19 countries in the European Social Survey (ESS) 2014.

Methods:

The study was based on the ESS 2014 with representative samples from 19 countries. QOL was measured by combining two questions on happiness and life satisfaction into a QOL scale. Multilevel modelling was used to examine whether the relationship between cancer status and QOL varies between countries in general and by welfare state regimes in particular.

Results:

People with cancer at the time of the interview, showed lower general QOL than both people who previously have had cancer and people who never have experienced cancer. The unadjusted and the adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for poor QOL were respectively, OR = 2.38, (2.07, 2.74) and OR = 1.98, (1.71, 2.30). The difference between the ‘Never’ and the ‘Previously’ groups was minor but statistical significant. The welfare state classification was a strong predictor of country differences in QOL, but there was no significant statistical interaction effect between cancer status and the welfare state classification. The study also replicated well-documented findings on differences in QOL by education and social support.

Conclusion:

The QOL of people with a cancer disease is significantly impaired. People who previously have had cancer, scored only slightly lower on the QOL scale than people who never had experienced cancer. We found evidence indicating that these differences may vary between the countries, but this variation cannot be explained by the welfare state classification.

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