Social Support in Relationships Between Two Cancer Patients

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Family and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Gary Bischof

Second Advisor

Dr. Angel Gullon-Rivera

Third Advisor

Robin E. Millar


Cancer, social support, cancer patients, cancer survivor, psycho-oncology

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This study furthers the understanding of social support in cancer patients and the relationship between cancer patients. The study explored the type of social support, emotional, instrumental, or practical, that is being provided from a relationship with another cancer patient.

Participants of the study were adult cancer patient in active treatment and cancer survivors, ages 18 and older, for any type of cancer. Recruitment was conducted through online cancer communities, cancer Facebook groups, listservs, and word of mouth from which 110 participants took an online survey which included an adapted version of the Cancer Perceived Agent of Social Support and additional survey questions. Data from Likert scale questions and demographics were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Thematic Analysis was used to analyze the one open-ended question on the survey.

Results of this study show that means for type of support provided by a partner, family, friends, and another cancer patient were all close; however, another cancer patient was perceived to provide the highest amount of informational support. In addition, results suggest that another cancer patient is perceived as a provider of all three types of support: informational, emotional, and instrumental. Thematic analysis findings revealed three major themes: type of support, similarity in experiences, and where support is encountered.

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