Pekkola, M., Garbrah, W. (2018) Social support experiences of breast cancer patients

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Research Review

Author(s): Maarit Pekkola 1*, William Garbrah 1

1 JAMK University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Published by: JAMK-JHSS (2018)

Language of article: English

Citation: Pekkola, M., Garbrah, W. (2018) Social Support Experiences of Breast Cancer Patients, JAMK Journal of Health and Social Studies, e72-e79.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. After receiving diagnosis and during treatments breast cancer patients often find themselves vulnerable and in need of social support. Receiving social support may relieve patients’stress, help them cope with the situation and improve their general well-being. The aim of the study was to describe breast cancer patients’ experiences of social support during their illness. The purpose was to present most recent information for nurses that can help them to acknowledge patients’ individual support needs in order to better meet them. Furthermore, this could improve the outcomes of social support provided by nurses. Thestudy was implemented as a literature review. The data were collected using two databases: CINAHL and MEDLINE, resulting in the selection of seven articles that were analyzed using inductive content analysis. The following four main categories of social support experiences emerged from the analysis: emotional support experiences, informational support experiences, instrumental support experiences and spiritual support experiences. As conclusion, it was found that breast cancer patients’ experiences of social support are highly personal and reflect their individual needs. Women’s experiences may further be affected by their native or adapted cultures and also by their religions. Therefore, nurses should provide breast cancer patients with more personalized care that would pay attention to their personality, age, religion and cultural background. Nurses could also routinely contact women who are waiting for surgery and make a follow-up call after treatments, which would improve both emotional and informational support for breast cancer patients.