Project Details


Cancer patients can experience a wide range of psychological
difficulties. Social support, particularly support provided by spouses,
can play a critical role in helping a person cope successfully with the
ongoing demands of cancer. However, recent criticisms of the social
support literature have argued that understanding how support operates is
important. Global theories of the relationship between support and
psychological outcomes have been investigated (e.g., support as a stress
buffer), with little attention given to the psychological factors that
influence the type of support people prefer, the psychological factors
that influence the type of support people provide, and how support
interactions operate to influence well-being. The primary goal of the proposed research is to closely examine
support-related interactions of cancer patients and their partners.
Specifically, this study will address three issues. First, the
psychological characteristics of support providers (spouses) and
recipients (cancer patients) that determine what type of support is
provided and preferred will be investigated. Second, the study will
investigate whether a match between psychological characteristics of
partners in support-related interactions predicts the psychological
adjustment of the support recipient. Third, the direct and indirect
effects of support upon psychological distress and well-being will be
examined using a longitudinal design. The study will have a longitudinal design. Patients with either breast
or gastrointestinal cancer and their healthy partners will participate in
the study. Patients and partners will be recruited into the study when
the patient begins outpatient chemotherapy treatment. Three times of
assessment will be included, with the. third assessment scheduled six
months following the initial assessment. Clinical implications of this
study include identification of appropriate targets for interventions to
improve the mental health of cancer patients: Is it beneficial to include
spouses in psychological interventions? Should interventions encourage
spouses of patients to "agree" with the patient's preferences for support
and provide this support, or should interventions encourage spouses to
provide support which encourages independence? The study will also
advance our theoretical understanding of social support.
Effective start/end date7/15/926/30/97


  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health: $103,638.00
  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)

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