The Effect of Telephone Social Support and Education on Adaptation to Breast Cancer During the Year Following Diagnosis

Elizabeth Ann Coleman

Lorraine Tulman

Nelda Samarel

Margaret Chamberlain Wilmoth

Linda Rickel

Marti Rickel

Carol Beth Stewart

ONF 2005, 32(4), 822-829. DOI: 10.1188/05.ONF.822-829

Purpose/Objectives: To find the most effective methods of providing social support for women diagnosed with breast cancer by testing the effectiveness of a telephone social support and education intervention to promote emotional and interpersonal adaptation to breast cancer.

Design: Multisite, two-group experimental study with repeated measures.

Setting: Arkansas and New Jersey.

Sample: The Arkansas sample consisted of 106 women who entered the study two to four weeks postsurgery for nonmetastatic breast cancer and were randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. The comparison group consisted of 91 women from New Jersey who had participated in a previously completed study that used the same interventions and found that telephone support resulted in more positive, statistically significant adaptation to the disease.

Methods: The experimental group received 13 months of telephone social support and education. Both groups received educational materials via a mailed resource kit. The Profile of Mood States; Visual Analogue Scale-Worry; Relationship Change Scale; University of California, Los Angeles, Loneliness Scale-Version 3; and the modified Symptom Distress Scale provided data regarding the variables of interest. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, t tests, and multivariate analysis of variance with repeated measures.

Main Research Variables: Mood, worry, relationships with significant others, loneliness, and symptoms.

Findings: Data analysis showed no significant differences between groups, and both improved on some of the outcomes. Significant time-by-location interaction effects were found when comparing the Arkansas and New Jersey samples, thereby supporting the need to consider regional differences when developing interventions.

Conclusions: The mailed educational resource kit alone appeared to be as effective as the telephone social support provided by oncology nurses in conjunction with the mailed resource kit.

Implications for Nursing: Mailed educational resource kits may be the most efficient and cost-effective way to provide educational support to newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer, but their effect may differ according to region.

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