Understanding the relationship between positive and negative social support and the quality of life among African American breast cancer survivors


Advocate Aurora Research Institute


PURPOSE: Social support improves several quality of life (QOL) domains among African American breast cancer survivors. How different dimensions of social support are associated with QOL among African American breast cancer survivors may however differ from other populations. This study explores this hypothesis by examining associations of positive social support (supportive interactions that promote affection) and negative social support (non-supportive interactions wherein the provider of support may not have the best intended actions) with QOL among Chicago-based African American breast cancer survivors.

METHODS: Study participants were eligible if they (1) were identified as being an African American female, (2) were at least 18 years of age or older, and (3) were diagnosed with breast cancer during or after navigation was implemented at the study hospital. Participants completed validated questionnaires via telephone or in-person interviews.

RESULTS: Among our sample of 100 participants, positive support was associated with greater mental well-being in non-imputed (Std β=1.60, CI: 0.51, 2.69, p= 0.004) and imputed models (Std β= 1.67, CI: 0.68, 2.73, p=0.001). There was also a weaker inverse association with negative support and mental well-being when using non-imputed data (Std β=-0.82, CI:-1.65, 0.02, p= 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that positive support, in particular, is highly influential for improving mental well-being among African American breast cancer survivors. Simultaneously, negative support appears to be an independent, albeit weaker, determinant of mental well-being.

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