Women’s perceptions of group support and adaptation to breast cancer


NeldaSamarel Department of Nursing, William Paterson University, 300 Pompton Road, Wayne, NJ 07470, USA.


Women’s perceptions of group support and adaptation to breast cancer¶ Formal cancer support groups are thought to assist women to adapt to the physiological and psychosocial sequelae of breast cancer. To shed some light on this untested clinical assumption, this Roy Adaptation Model of Nursing-based study was designed to explore women’s own reports about their adaptation to breast cancer and their participation in support groups. This article reports the results of the quantitative content analysis of structured telephone interviews with 70 women who participated in group social support and education for breast cancer. Almost three-quarters of the women expressed a positive change in attitude towards breast cancer, and all regarded participation in the groups as positive. A majority reported adaptive physiological, self-concept, role function, and interdependence mode effects of breast cancer and group participation. Additional research is needed to show how different types of cancer support groups, including social support and education groups and psychotherapy groups, contribute to women’s responses. Research is also needed to separate the effects of group social support and education from other sources of social support that may have contributed to the women’s responses, and to further explore feelings of normalization expressed by some women.