Typologies for Restructuring Relationships in Cancer Survivorship: Temporal Changes in Social Support and Engagement With Self-Management Practices

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Abstract

Background

Cancer survivors with good social support are generally more motivated to undertake self-management behaviors and make lifestyle changes. However, the impact of changes in social support over time, from prediagnosis through treatment and into survivorship, on the health and recovery of cancer survivors with a range of cancer diagnoses has not been explored.

Objective

The aim of this study was to examine how temporal changes in social support offered to cancer survivors by family and friends influence their engagement with self-management practices and adaptation to lifestyle changes.

Methods

The interview study took place in a teaching hospital in the West Midlands, United Kingdom. Forty participants were purposively sampled. A narrative approach to data collection was chosen, and data were thematically analyzed.

Results

Six typologies of restructuring relationships postcancer were identified. A greater understanding of the changes to social relationships that a cancer diagnosis can incur and the impact of this on people's outlook and ability to self-manage was developed.

Conclusion

The restructuring of social relationships by cancer survivors over time can impact their outlook and ability to self-manage in survivorship, shaping their engagement with health promoting activities and reconciling cancer within the wider context of their lives.

Implications for Practice

Appropriate clinical nursing processes and tailored interventions are required to support cancer survivors and promote engagement with self-management practices. Nurses are a vital component of the social support that enables patients to make the best health and lifestyle choices available to them.

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