Sources of Social Support: Adolescents With Cancer

Heather B. Haluska

Peggy O. Jessee

Christine M. Nagy

ONF 2002, 29(9), 1317-1324. DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.1317-1324

Purpose/Objectives: To evaluate how a cancer diagnosis affects adolescents' perceived sources of social support, amount of support needed, and level of satisfaction with support compared to an age-matched, healthy, adolescent group.

Design: Cross-sectional, comparative, nonrandom survey.

Setting: Summer camp for adolescents with cancer and a rural high school in the southeastern United States.

Sample: Adolescents with a diagnosis of cancer (n = 64) and age-matched, healthy adolescents (n = 115).

Methods: Subjects completed the Social Support Questionnaire, Perceived Social Support From Family Scale, Perceived Social Support From Friends Scale, and demographic information forms.

Main Research Variables: Sources of social support, amount of support perceived, and level of satisfaction with support.

Findings: Adolescents with cancer perceived social support coming from both friends and family and reported high levels of support satisfaction from each source. Compared to healthy adolescents, those with cancer reported similar support sources and satisfaction levels; however, adolescents with cancer perceived parental relationships as more supportive.

Conclusions: Similarities between healthy adolescents and those with cancer regarding social support were more prevalent than differences. The social benefits of camp settings for chronically ill children should be explored further.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses and other healthcare professionals should allow adolescents in the healthcare setting every opportunity to maintain their social networks of friends and family by encouraging visitation, providing social opportunities in the hospital, and emphasizing the importance of attending school when medically able.

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