Role Of Social Support In Breast Cancer

2243 words - 9 pages

Following skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, as approximately 12% of women will develop invasive breast cancer throughout their lifetime (Ma, Jemal 2013). After being diagnosed with breast cancer, women face major psychological and social challenges to coping with the disease. Many studies have examined the role of social support in cancer progression. It is commonly found that having a strong social support system aids individuals during the course of their illness (Dunkel-Schetter 1984). This review will specifically question if the various forms of social support are always a positive influence on an individual’s ability to cope with breast cancer. For the most part the literature indicates that a strong social support system is beneficial for the well being of the cancer patient. However, as I will explain during this review not all forms of social support are beneficial, in fact some instances of social support may be detrimental and can produce conflict among members of the support group. This finding is not common, however it is important to mention in order to understand the role of social support as a whole. Through reviewing five academic studies I will describe the various forms of social support and their subsequent effects on coping with breast cancer.
Through looking at the literature on the role of social support during the course of breast cancer, I found that most studies showed social support as having a positive effect on individuals’ health and well being. The studies showed that there are many different forms of social support, each with their own positive effects on coping with breast cancer. This is demonstrated through the academic articles: “Social Support, Accommodation to Stress, and Adjustment to Breast Cancer” by Joan R. Bloom and “The Effects of Peer Support Group on Promoting the Quality of Life in Patients with Breast Cancer” by Taleghani et al.
Firstly, Joan R. Bloom studied a sample of 130 American women diagnosed with breast cancer to determine the independent effect of social support on adjustment to life (Bloom 1982). Generally the results of Bloom’s study indicated that women who had more social support would use fewer modes of accommodating to the stress of having breast cancer (1336). In turn, women who have more social support will have a higher self-concept, feel more powerful, and undergo less psychological distress during the coping process (1335). The types of social support that provided the most positive results were emotional support and social contact. Bloom argues that social contact can provide opportunities for exchange of information, obtain reassurance and reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation (1331). She further argues that perceptions of a cohesive family provide the individual with the most stable and rewarding form of social support. (1331). Therefore Bloom argues that the most consistent and effective forms of social support are from social...

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