Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Clinical.




Most of the literature on the stress associated with the support of cancer patients is anecdotal and speculative. This study sought to systematically explore problems is giving support. A total of 157 family members and friends of cancer patients were involved; most were administered a questionnaire while waiting for patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatment at a local clinic. The first objective was to identify some of the broader dimensions underlying specific support problems and to develop an instrument to tap these dimensions. Items generated by a literature review were presented to over 500 subjects. Through factor analysis, three basic dimensions were isolated: Affect Arousal, Task Ambiguity, and Personal Cost. These dimensions appeared consistently across the four types of support examined: Practical Help, Emotional Expression, Advice and Guidance, and Empathic Understanding. The questionnaire also included items tapping contextual or background variables, network characteristics, and satisfaction with support given in each domain. The second objective involved the examination of differences in support problems by type of support. For all four types of support, the ambiguity of the support task was most important, followed by personal cost. Affect arousal was found to be less salient in constraining support given. This was in contrast to many observations which cite the importance of negative emotional response in the experience of support problems. The third objective involved exploration of the correlates of support problems and of satisfaction with support given. Disease characteristics were not found to be particularly significant. An important demographic variable was age of the support person, with younger support persons experiencing more problems and less satisfaction with support given. The emotional reactions of the patient and the degree of involvement with the patient were both related to support problems and satisfaction. The effects of self-involvement and emotional reactions were less predictive for the immediate family than for friends and relatives. More distant, less involved support persons experienced more difficulties and les satisfaction. Contrary to expectations, the network was related to problems and satisfaction experienced. A higher number of relatives and friends in the community was associated with the perception of more support problems, particularly for younger support persons.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1984 .F754. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 46-02, Section: B, page: 0639. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1984.