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Cancer Nurs. 2006 Jan-Feb;29(1):66-72.

Social support: gender differences in cancer patients in the United Kingdom.

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Cancer Research UK, Child and Family Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TP, UK.


Social support is an important aspect of psychological functioning during diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Gender has been found to influence support preferences, and previous research suggests that women are more likely to seek and utilize support by comparison to men. This qualitative study explores how patients perceive the support they receive. It also examines patient preferences and satisfaction with information and emotional support provided by staff. Eleven melanoma patients (6 men and 5 women) and 5 breast cancer patients participated in a semistructured interview. Thematic analysis suggests that gender is central to patients' satisfaction and preference for support. Whereas women expected staff to provide information and emotional support, men felt that emotional support from staff was inappropriate and perceived information as supportive in helping them deal with their emotions. Men were also more satisfied with support generally, and women perceived staff to have less time to provide support. Breast cancer patients were more satisfied with access to and the nature of support available to them. Findings suggest that female melanoma patients would benefit from similar services. Meeting the support needs of men appears less clear. If support were available as part of a structured care plan, it is possible that men would also utilize support. Future research is required to gain greater understanding of men's support needs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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