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Keywords:

  • adolescents;
  • cancer;
  • social support;
  • review

Abstract

With survival rates increasing dramatically in pediatric cancer, concern has increasingly focused on the psychosocial aspects of the cancer experience. Clearly, the experience of a cancer diagnosis and treatment of cancer places high demands on the coping of adolescents. Research has shown social support to be effective in decreasing stress and enhancing coping in adolescents facing such demands. A review and critical analysis of studies of social support in adolescent cancer survivors was conducted. The seventeen studies were mainly descriptive and exploratory in nature with social support examined for a number of outcome variables in eight of the studies. Findings from this review indicate that support from parents (especially the mother) and friends were extremely important and that the adolescents were satisfied with family support. Support from friends was described as less satisfactory. Methodological concerns of the reviewed studies include small samples and a lack of consistency in the instruments used to assess social support. Future studies of social support for adolescent cancer survivors should include larger samples to determine gender, age group, and ethnic differences and to allow the examination of social support theoretical models specific to the developmental and chronic illness situation of these adolescents. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.