Perceived helpfulness and impact of social support provided by family, friends, and health care providers to women newly disgnosed with breast cancer
We evaluated the helpfulness of informational, emotional, and decision-making support received by women newly diagnosed with breast cancer from their family, friends, and health care providers. Data were collected at two time points via patient surveys: baseline on an average 2 months post-diagnosis and follow-up at 5 months post-baseline. In the period closer to diagnosis, majority of the women received helpful informational support from health care providers (84.0%); helpful emotional support from family (85%), friends (80.4%), and providers (67.1%); and helpful decision-making support from providers (75.2%) and family (71.0%). Emotional support at baseline and emotional and informational support at 5-month follow-up were significantly associated with patients' health-related quality of life and self-efficacy outcomes (p<0.01). Perceived helpfulness of informational, emotional, and decision-making support provided by family, friends, and providers however significantly decreased over time (p<0.001). Cancer patients' desire significant amount of support throughout their cancer journey. Our results show that while patients receive a lot of support during the period closer to diagnosis, receipt of helpful support drops significantly within the first year itself. In order to facilitate cancer patients' adjustment to their illness, efforts need to be made to understand and address their support needs throughout the cancer experience.
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