Perceived Social Support and Quality of Life Among Clients Participating in Cancer Support Services
Purpose: To collect and analyze participant demographic information and explore use of instruments to measure perceived social support and quality of life at a local cancer support program. Specific objectives included:
1. Gather and analyze participant demographic information and program utilization by participants for a non-profit cancer support agency.
2. Assess the extent to which those using the support programs experience perceived social support (PSS) and quality of life (QOL).
3. Assess the utility of the survey process and selected instruments to guide program planning.
Background: Obtaining the diagnosis of cancer is traumatic, but support groups assist in emotional healing among group members. There is strong evidence correlating support group participation with PSS and QOL. The Wilson and Cleary model of QOL clearly links social support and QOL and provided the conceptual framework for this project.
Methods: A survey for self-reported participant demographics, support activities, QOL scores, and PSS scores was implemented. Both online and pencil and paper surveys were available. Instruments included the Flanagan Quality of Life Scale (Cronbach’s α = .82 to .92) and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support Scale (Cronbach’s α = 0.91) and a demographic survey created for this project.
Outcomes: All but one survey was completed online (n=48). Respondents were primarily white, female, cancer free at the time of the survey, and over the age of 55. QOL and PSS scores within this sample emulated previous research of correlations between instruments and people with chronic illnesses.
Conclusion: Correlations of sample demographics and instrument scores reflected current literature; this project validates an effective and affordable means to evaluate program effectiveness. Future use of the survey is to better tailor services to meet the objectives of the agency to improve QOL for all individuals affected by cancer.
Keywords: Cancer, support group, quality of life, perceived social support