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Self-advocacy and cancer: a concept analysis


Correspondence to T.L. Hagan: e-mail:



To report an analysis of the concept of self-advocacy among individuals with cancer to clarify its meaning, to differentiate this meaning with related concepts, and to unify understanding of the concept in cancer research and practice.


Cancer survivors are increasingly required to assume an active role in their health care. A thorough analysis of how survivors advocate for themselves is a crucial aspect in supporting survivors' ability to engage and manage their care throughout all stages of cancer survivorship.


Walker and Avant's eight-step process of conducting a concept analysis was used.

Data sources

PubMed, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases were searched for articles, reviews, editorials, and grey literature directly addressing self-advocacy.

Review methods

A broad inquiry into the literature from 1960 to 2012 that produces a definition of self-advocacy. Model and contrary cases of self-advocacy demonstrate the concept's application and intricacies.


Antecedents to self-advocacy include particular personal characteristics, learned skills, and attainable support. The essential element of self-advocacy and what differentiates it from related concepts, is the internalization of these antecedent resources into self-advocacy thoughts and actions while incorporating personal values and priorities in a way that upholds the survivors' goals and beliefs. A full realization of self-advocacy facilitates a cancer survivor attaining a strong self-concept, sense of control, and adaptation to a life with cancer.


Self-advocacy is a process of internalizing skills and resources to act in a way that supports survivors' needs and goals.