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Keywords:

  • psychological distress;
  • social network members;
  • depression;
  • anxiety;
  • relationship satisfaction

Abstract

The purposes of this investigation were to compare psychological distress among cancer survivors' social network members with different relationships with the survivors and to compare their reported levels of distress with population norms. Participants in this investigation included spouses/significant others (n = 153), siblings (n = 11), adult children (n = 25), parents (n = 10), cousins (n = 6), and friends/others (n = 10) of English or Spanish speaking women with breast cancer and English speaking men with prostate cancer. Network members reported on their symptoms of depression, positive and negative affect, anxiety, and relationship satisfaction. The psychological distress among all relationship types was similar. Spouses, and to a lesser extent, adult children were the only groups whose levels of psychological distress were above population norms. Relationship satisfaction was negatively associated with social network members' psychological distress, and female network members had higher levels of depression than male network members due, in part, to higher perceived stress among female network members. These findings highlight the need to consider the potentially deleterious impact of cancer not just on survivors' spouses, but on other social network members as well and to make services available to network members who may play an important role in the survivor's care and adjustment. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 33:450–464, 2010