Master's Theses

Date of Award

Fall 1992

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Richard P. Schellenberg

Abstract

This thesis focused on the extent to which cancer patients desired, sought, and received social support, as well as on the extent to which the patients were satisfied with the social support they received. The three types of social support studied were informational, aid/assistance, and emotional support. These types of social support were examined for two sources of social support -- health care workers, and family members/friends. Additional aims of the research were to study relationships between social support and the patient’s physical and psychological adjustment to their cancer, and to examine relationships between aspects of social support and the degree of stress associated with the two support sources. The method of the thesis involved asking a sample of 39 cancer patients (18 male, 21 female) with different types of cancer to complete mailed questionnaires. The questionnaires were sent with a cover letter that explained the general purpose of the research as well as their medical center’s cooperation with the study. Each questionnaire consisted of self-report measures that included a modified version of the UCLA Social Support Inventory and measures of the patient’s physical and psychological adjustment to their cancer. Results indicated that cancer patients received more informational support from health care workers than from family members/friends; on the other hand, they received more aid/assistance and emotional support from family members/friends than from health care workers. Informational and emotional support were more desired by the patients than was aid/assistance. Patients reported receiving as much informational support as they desired, and reported receiving more aid/assistance and emotional support than they desired. Results indicated a high degree of satisfaction with all types of support. There were no differences in the extent to which cancer patients sought the three different types of social support. Surprisingly, there was negligible evidence for relationships between social support and indices of the patients’ physical and psychological adjustment to their cancer. Among the most noteworthy results of the thesis, were findings pertaining to the negative aspects of the cancer patients’ social relationships. These findings concerned a pattern of relationships between social support and the degree of stress associated with the two support sources. Higher degrees of stress from both sources were uniformly associated with greater degrees of desired social support; at the same time, the degree of stress from the two sources was unrelated to the extent to which the patients actually sought social support. Higher degrees of stress from health care workers were associated with higher degrees of received tangible aid/assistance from this source (but was unrelated to received informational and emotional support from health care workers). The degree of stress from family members/friends was unrelated to received support of any type. Finally, higher degrees of stress from the two sources were associated with lower degrees of satisfaction with aid/assistance and emotional support.

Rights

Copyright 1992 Darcy Basgall-Newell

Comments

Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code).

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