Impact of perceived social support on the mental health and health-related quality of life in cancer patients: results from a nationwide, multicenter survey in South Korea


Correspondence to: Division of Cancer Policy and Management, National Cancer Control Research Institute, National Cancer Center, 111 Jungbalsan-ro, Ilsandong-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do 410-769, Korea. E-mail:

Department of Family Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Yeongeon-dong 28, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-744, South Korea. E-mail:



We investigated whether and how perceived social support is associated with depression and quality of life among patients with various cancer diagnoses.


Data were collected from 1930 cancer patients treated at the National Cancer Center and nine regional cancer centers across Korea. The Duke-UNC functional social support scale was used to measure the perceived social support, and the PHQ-9 and the EORTC QLQ-C30 were used to measure the cancer patients' depression levels and quality of life, respectively.


Subjects with low perceived social support reported significantly higher levels of depression, lower scores on all functional scales, higher scores on all three symptom scales, lower global health/quality of life scale scores, and higher scores on most single items than subjects with high perceived social support. There was no interaction between potential stressors and perceived social support, supporting the main effect model as the mechanism that the perceived social support reduce the adverse psychological outcomes.


Perceived social support was associated with mental health and quality of life in cancer patients, through direct effect rather than stress-buffering effect. Interventions to enhance perceived social support might be helpful for improving mental health and QOL in cancer patients. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.