Perceived social support in young adults with cancer and the camp experience
Handley, Stacy Marie
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During the years when a peer social support network should be formed, children and adolescents with cancer are in hospitals and are surrounded by protective parents and family. Literature suggests there are many benefits associated with formation of a social support network including improvement of health status but few childhood cancer survivors have had the opportunity to form these networks. The purpose of this study is to determine if there is an increase in reports of social support after attending an oncology camp. A non-random convenience sample of 18 to 25 year olds with a diagnosis of cancer attending a weeklong oncology camp were selected to participate in the research. Participants completed surveys containing the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Social Support Survey, RAND 36-Item Health Survey Questionnaire 1.0, and qualitative questions at the beginning and end of camp. Comparison of pre-camp and post-camp mean scores on the MOS Social Support Survey were statistically significant for one scale only, tangible support within a particularly vulnerable sub-sample of participants. An increase in all means was observed when pre-camp and post-camp results were compared. These results suggest that cancer camp may be an effective intervention for establishing a social support network and benefit overall health and wellbeing. The implications for nursing include implementation of interventions designed to increase social networks of children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer as well as encouraging camp attendance.