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Soc Sci Med. 1995 Nov;41(9):1255-60.

Confiding in crisis: gender differences in pattern of confiding among cancer patients.

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  • 1Cancer Research Campaign Psychological Medicine Group, Christie Hospital, Manchester, England.


Social support has been identified as a key predictor of psychological morbidity following adverse life-events. However, the majority of the research has focused exclusively on women, despite evidence of significant gender difference in the utilisation and role of social support. To examine gender differences in patterns of confiding crisis, 520 subjects were interviewed within 8 weeks of a cancer diagnosis. Men were as likely as women to have confided their main concern in others (61% mainly or fully confided vs 67% of women, P = 0.308) but were much more likely to have used only one confidante (45% vs 25% of women, P < 0.001) while women made use of a wider circle of family, friends and partner and used more confidantes overall. The results confirm marked gender differences in the utilisation of social support at times of crisis and call into question the extent to which support research using exclusively female samples can be generalized.

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