Medline: 10668056

Psycho-Oncology 9(1): 20-28, 2000.

Negative and positive influences of social support on depression in patients with head and neck cancer: a prospective study.

De Leeuw JR, De Graeff A, Ros WJ, et al.


Patients with head and neck cancer have to cope not only with a life threatening diagnosis, but also with an altered facial appearance and the loss or impairment of important functions as a result of treatment. As a consequence they are prone to psychosocial problems. Social support might influence their ability to adapt to the illness and its treatment. The aim of this prospective study is to examine the influence of different aspects of social support on the depressive symptomatology in head and neck cancer patients treated with surgery and/or radiotherapy. Patients completed a questionnaire relating to available and received support, the extent of the social network, depressive symptoms, and general health complaints before and 6 months after treatment. Received support was found to be associated with more depressive symptomatology at baseline and available support led to less depressive symptomatology. The relationship between social support and depressive symptoms was especially apparent in patients with few general health complaints. Whereas the availability of support seemed to be beneficial regardless of the situation, the effect of received support was equivocal. The provision of support should be tailored to the needs of the individual patient. Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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