The Roles of Support Seeking and Race/Ethnicity in Posttraumatic Growth Among Breast Cancer Survivors

a Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences and Center for Cancer Training, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health , Department of Health and Human Services , Bethesda , MD , USA.
Journal of Psychosocial Oncology (Impact Factor: 1.04). 07/2013; 31(4):393-412. DOI: 10.1080/07347332.2013.798759
Source: PubMed


Posttraumatic growth (PTG) after cancer can minimize the emotional impact of disease and treatment; however, the facilitators of PTG, including support seeking, are unclear. The authors examined the role of support seeking on PTG among 604 breast cancer survivors ages 40 to 64 from the Health Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle (HEAL) Study. Multivariable linear regression was used to examine predictors of support seeking (participation in support groups and confiding in health care providers) as well as the relationship between support seeking and PTG. Support program participation was moderate (61.1%) compared to the high rates of confiding in health professionals (88.6%), and African Americans were less likely to report participating than non-Hispanic Whites (odds ratio = .14, confidence intervals [0.08, 0.23]). The mean (SD) PTG score was 48.8 (27.4) (range 0-105). Support program participation (β = 10.4) and confiding in health care providers (β = 12.9) were associated (p < .001) with higher PTG. In analyses stratified by race/ethnicity, PTG was significantly higher in non-Hispanic Whites and African American support program participants (p < .01), but not significantly higher in Hispanics/Latinas. Confiding in a health care provider was only associated with PTG for non-Hispanic Whites (p = .02). Support program experiences and patient-provider encounters should be examined to determine which attributes facilitate PTG in diverse populations.

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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies have shown that cancer survivors experience severe psychological distress, but some also experience personal growth, known as posttraumatic growth (PTG). Help-seeking behavior (HSB) is critical for cancer survivors to better cope with stress and possibly experience PTG. The existing theoretical models of PTG and HSB assume that cancer survivors, regardless of their cultural background or personality, will receive benefit from actively interacting with others. The purpose of this review article is to critically examine this assumption and to propose that the role of distal and proximate cultures need to be considered in further understanding the psychological mechanisms of PTG and HSB. Future studies should identify the culture specific meanings and implications of experiencing PTG and engaging in HSB.
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