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Although the nature, meaning and measurement of social support are still being debated in the literature, it has been claimed to have positive effects on a variety of outcomes, including physical health, mental well-being and social functioning However, an intention to help on the part of the support provider is not sufficient to ensure that one is actually supportive, either as a professional or within one's own personal network Past research indicates that social support is beneficial to cancer patients in adjusting to the stress of the disease and yet, because of the intense fears and stigma associated with it, those who have cancer may be especially likely to experience problems in obtaining adequate support Without an appreciation of the complexity of support elicitation and support provision, nurses caring for patients with cancer and for their relatives may, however unintentionally, undermine one of the strongest potential resources people have in coping with the disease—the social relationship