Although considerable attention has been directed toward cancer support groups, little is known about how often these services are actually used in clinical practice or the factors that influence participation.Purpose:
Drawing in part on the Health Belief Model, this study examined group participation and its correlates among 425 patients with diverse malignancies treated at a large academic oncology center. Method: Patients were surveyed regarding utilization rates, health beliefs, and medical and demographic characteristics.Results:
Only a small number of patients reported having participated in groups (8.0%). Consistent with the model, in univariate analyses, participation was significantly related to greater perceptions of illness severity (p < .0001), greater perceived benefits (p < .01), fewer perceived barriers (all p < .01), and greater cues for action (i.e., recommendation by family/friends, p < .000001). In multivariate analyses controlling for disease site and other covariates, the strongest predictors included recommendation by family/friends (OR = 5.04; CI = 1.98-12.81), perceived seriousness of the illness (OR = 4.07; CI = 1.42-11.60), and geographical residence (OR = 2.74; CI = 1.09-6.93).Conclusion:
Results suggest that participation might be increased by involving the patient's support network, improving access in underserved rural communities, addressing illness appraisals, and increasing outreach to certain diagnostic groups.