Social Support Post-Cancer Lacking Among Minority Women
• Fewer nonwhite female cancer survivors spoke with a friend or family member about their health.
• Social support often key to continued health.
MIAMI — Nonwhite women reported receiving less social support than white women after cancer treatment, according to data presented at the Third AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, held Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2010.
“This is an important finding when designing and promoting social support resources for female cancer survivors to better include cancer survivors of color,” said study author Jennifer M. Jabson, M.P.H., Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of community health sciences at Boston University. “This might be useful when interventionists and community support groups are conducting outreach as they may want to focus special attention on learning the support needs and desires of cancer survivors who are also women of color in their communities.”
Jabson and colleagues evaluated data from the 2005 Health Information National Trends Survey, a probability survey of health communication and information among U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. Participants were randomly recruited and included 577 female cancer survivors, of which 75 were ethnic minority cancer survivors.
Overall, 87 percent of the entire sample of cancer survivors reported receiving social support from a friend or family member to whom they could talk about their health. However, 99 percent of white cancer survivors reported having a friend or family member as social support compared with 86 percent of nonwhite female cancer survivors.
When participants were asked about engagement in moderate-intensity physical activity, 99 percent reported some moderate-intensity physical activity in a typical week. Broken down by race/ethnicity, 78 percent of white female cancer survivors and 75 percent of nonwhite female cancer survivors reported some moderate-intensity physical activity.
“A preponderance of literature has focused on the relative lack of physical activity among many groups, and knowing of the multiple benefits of physical activity, we were encouraged to find women reporting physical activity,” Jabson said.
Future research should examine the role of physical activity, social support and other reinforcing factors that may influence nonwhite women to participate more or less than other cancer survivors, according to Jabson.
“We need to continue our work to better understand the complexities of cancer survivorship for women of color in an effort to maximize on the opportunity for positive cancer survivorship,” she said.
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 32,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists, providing a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.
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