Perceived Social Support and Impact on Coping of People Living with Cancer Undergoing Care at A Tertiary Hospital Level in Ibadan, Nigeria
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Social support


Background: Over the years, it has been documented that a strong relationship exists between social relationships and overall morbidity and mortality from all diseases especially chronic non-communicable diseases such as cancer. When the support system available to a cancer patient is not adequate, such a patient may have difficulty adjusting to the new clinical state of health.

Objective: To assess the value of perceived social support and its effect on coping of cancer patients managed at the Oncology unit of the University College Hospital Ibadan – South West Ibadan.

Methods: A totalof115cancer patients managed at the Oncology outpatient clinic of the University College Hospital, Ibadan were interviewed. Relevant data collected include age, sex, type of malignancy, treatment, duration of diagnosis, source(s) of support, type(s) of support and coping strategies. Social support is defined as the emotional support received from family friends and significant others and was measured with the multidimensional scale of perceived social support.  Frequency tables were used to summarise the demographic and morbidity characteristics of the respondents. Mean social support score and coping score were computed and analysed across associated variables.   

Results: The participants were predominantly females (103 females; 89.6%). Fifty (43.5%) had breast cancer, 43 (37.4%) had cervical cancer, and 22 (19.1%) had head and neck cancer. Majority of the respondents reported at least one source of support, which included: relatives {105 (91.3%)}, friends {29 (25.2%}, medical caregivers {(40 (34.8%)}, non-governmental organization {1 (0.9%)}, no source of support {5 (4.3%)}. Majority also reported at least one form of support which includes: financial {94 (81.7%)}, emotional {96 (83.5%)}, spiritual {90 (78.3%)} and assistance with tasks {61(53.0%)}. Ethnic group was found to be significantly associated with coping (F=8.90, p= 0.001). Notably, mean coping score did not differ significantly between the two groups of participants with good and poor perceived social support (38.33 ±5.48 vs 38.17 ±5.24, t = 0.16, p= 0.88).

Conclusion: Provided social support might not actually be translated into coping measures. Cancer patients should be supported with every available means and by everyone around them.

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