Social support systems and coping : family members of terminal cancer patients
Present research aimed to study the relationships of formal
support systems, informal support systems and coping effort to the
distress of close family members of terminal cancer patients.
Twenty-three subjects were recruited from two hospitals, one with organized formal service to the family of patients and one without. Subjects were excluded on the patients' death. The final sample was left with eleven subjects.
Shortly after the cancer patient were diagnosed as entering the terminal phase, all subjects were found to have a high level of distress and were at high risk of being a psychiatric patient (defined by a score of 2 or more on the 12-item General Health Questionaire). The spouses of the patients were more vulnerable. A significant decrease in the risk was observed in the sample after a six-week period. It appears that those subjects being provided with formal service had a greater decrease in the level of distress than the other subjects although the difference was not significant. The formal service was perceived by subjects as significantly more helpful in the aspect of emotional support.
At the first interview, perceived instrumental support and disappointment with all aspects of social support from the informal support systems were found to be significantly related to the level of distress. Size of the supportive networks was positively related to the level of distress after the six-week period. Perceived emotional support appears to vary in different types of support network.
A negative relationship was found between the number of helpful coping strategies and the level of distress for subjects under formal service. These subjects who received formal service seem to have different coping pattern from the other subjects. The perceived helpfulness of coping strategies was also found to differ from the usage of coping strategies as criterion measures.
Implications of present results for clinical prevention and community service were discussed.
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:cancer patients family relationships
Date of Publication:01/01/1985