Objectives Among breast cancer (BC) survivors, inadequate social support (SS) is associated with a significant increase in cancer-related mortality and reduction in quality of life (QoL). The aim of the study was to explore perceived SS during BC trajectory by comparing BC survivors, women with depression, women with arterial hypertension, and healthy female controls to each other, and to compare perceived balance of receiving and providing SS. Material and methods The data of ongoing prospective postal survey was linked with national health registries. Respondents with BC (n = 64), depression (n = 471), arterial hypertension (n = 841) and healthy controls (n = 6274) formed the study population. SS was measured by a Sarason's 6-item shortened version of the Social Support Questionnaire (SSQ). The modified Antonucci's (1986) social support convoy model of the network of individuals was used to measure the dominating direction of SS. Results The main provider of SS for all participants combined was the spouse or partner (94.3%), close relative (12.0%) and friends (5.4%). In all groups, particularly in the BC and arterial hypertension group, spouse or partner was seen as the most important supporter. The group suffering from depression reported significantly less SS in each domain of appraisal (p < 0.001). In total, 24.6% of all respondents reported receipt dominance of SS. Conclusion SS is a well-known determinant of wellbeing. Our study lends support to the spouse's or the partner's central role during the recovery phase of BC. Identification of factors improving the overall QoL of BC survivors is an important public health challenge.
Salakari, M., Pylkkänen, L., Sillanmäki, L., Nurminen, R., Rautava, P., Koskenvuo, M., & Suominen, S. (2017). Social support and breast cancer: A comparatory study of breast cancer survivors, women with mental depression, women with hypertension and healthy female controls. Breast, 35, 85–90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.breast.2017.06.017