Social support and recovery: Breast cancer in disadvantaged black women
Beder, Joan Carol
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This quantitative-descriptive study examined the relationship between adjustment to breast cancer and types of perceived social support. One hundred socioeconomically disadvantaged black women, fifty at three months, and fifty at twelve months, postmastectomy, were studied to explore the differences in adjustment at the two time frames. Subjects, Stage I, II or III breast cancer patients, 25-65 years of age, were recruited from six hospitals in the New York City area. It was hypothesized and demonstrated that those with higher perceived social support experienced a better adjustment than those with less perceived support.;Women at three months showed a differential use of perceived social support as it impacted their adjustment to their breast cancer surgery: they did not value the perceived support of having someone to talk to and valued the tangible, self-esteem and belonging support offered by others. Women at twelve months did not value the perceived social support of having someone to do things with and valued the ability to talk with someone, tangible support, and self-esteem input, as it impacted their adjustment. It was hypothesized but not demonstrated, that hospital social work involvement, would impact adjustment.;A variety of demographic factors were measured against adjustment with the variables of perceived social support, age (younger women had a more difficult recovery period) and years of education (those with less education had a more difficult recovery period) the only significant factors in adjustment. Contrary to existing studies--mainly focused on a white, middle class population--factors including marital status, number of children, work, degree of religiosity, residency patterns and types of treatment, were not significant aspects of the adjustment process.;Policy implications point toward the need for greater service provision for this group of breast cancer survivors and a reconceptualization of social work intervention. Further exploration is called for to be able to identify those factors, beyond the perception of social support and the other variables which have been identified, which positively impact the adjustment for this cohort.