Cancer Survivorship in Rural and Urban Adults: A Descriptive and Mixed Methods Study

Julie A. McNulty, Lillian Nail

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Purpose: Rural-dwelling cancer survivors (CSs) are at risk for decrements in health and well-being due to decreased access to health care and support resources. This study compares the impact of cancer in rural- and urban-dwelling adult CSs living in 2 regions of the Pacific Northwest. Methods: A convenience sample of posttreatment adult CSs (N = 132) completed the Impact of Cancer version 2 (IOCv2) and the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale-short form. High and low scorers on the IOCv2 participated in an in-depth interview (n = 19). Findings: The sample was predominantly middle-aged (mean age 58) and female (84%). Mean time since treatment completion was 6.7 years. Cancer diagnoses represented included breast (56%), gynecologic (9%), lymphoma (8%), head and neck (6%), and colorectal (5%). Comparisons across geographic regions show statistically significant differences in body concerns, worry, negative impact, and employment concerns. Rural-urban differences from interview data include access to health care, care coordination, connecting/community, thinking about death and dying, public/private journey, and advocacy. Conclusion: The insights into the differences and similarities between rural and urban CSs challenge the prevalent assumptions about rural-dwelling CSs and their risk for negative outcomes. A common theme across the study findings was community. Access to health care may not be the driver of the survivorship experience. Findings can influence health care providers and survivorship program development, building on the strengths of both rural and urban living and the engagement of the survivorship community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-291
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Cancer survivorship
  • Impact of cancer
  • Late effects
  • Rural health
  • Rural-urban cancer survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Cancer Survivorship in Rural and Urban Adults: A Descriptive and Mixed Methods Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this