261239 Perceived social support in social networks increases cancer-related information seeking among cancer patients through communication efficacy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nehama Lewis, PhD , Department of Communication, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Israel
Lourdes Martinez, PhD , Communication, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Previous research shows that information seeking serves an integral role in cancer patients' ability to participate in decision-making about their treatments, and imparts other beneficial outcomes. However, seeking behaviors vary among this population. This study focuses on the role of social determinants in information-seeking behavior, in particular on the influence of perceived social support on information seeking. The study addresses the question of whether broad social network of close friends equips cancer patients with increased social and emotional resources for coping with their cancer, which then leads to an increased likelihood of actively seeking cancer-related information. In addition, the study tests whether effects of perceived social support on information seeking are mediated by communication efficacy. The results are based on data collected from a randomly drawn sample from the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry, comprising breast, prostate and colorectal cancer patients who completed mail surveys in the Fall of 2006. The response rate for baseline subjects (N=2013) was 85%. Results are consistent with a cross-sectional mediation effect in which perceived social support is positively associated with coping efficacy (B = 0.17, SE = 0.03, p = 0.001), which, in turn, is positively associated with cancer-related information seeking (B = 0.13, SE = 0.03, p < 0.001). While the effect size is small, on the aggregate level this finding is significant and indicates that perceived social support in social networks is an important resource for cancer patients, and can bolster abilities to cope with survivor issues as well as lead to increased information-seeking.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the benefits of cancer-related information seeking on health and outcomes among cancer patients. 2. Assess the role of social determinants including perceived social support in social networks on information seeking behaviors. 3. Discuss ways to provide social support for cancer patients and encourage active information seeking behaviors.

Keywords: Self-Efficacy, Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a postdoctoral research fellow in the Community Based Intervention Research Group (C-BIRG). During my doctoral studies, I served as a research fellow in the Center for Excellence in Cancer Communication (CECCR) at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, under the supervision of Dr. Robert Hornik (PI). This paper is jointly written with my co-authors, fellow CECCR team members, and is based on data collected through the CECCR research grant.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.