Social support and quality of life among Chinese breast cancer survivors: Findings from a mixed methods study

Huilin Cheng, Janet W.H. Sit, Carmen W.H. Chan, Winnie K.W. So, Kai Chow Choi, Karis K.F. Cheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Social support has been identified as a significant factor positively influencing quality of life (QOL) in breast cancer survivors. However, less is known about whether and how social support remains important among cancer survivors over the course of the survivorship trajectory. Aim: To explore social support and its relationship with QOL in breast cancer survivors in China. Methods: This was a sequential mixed methods study. In Phase I, 100 breast cancer survivors were surveyed using standardized questionnaires. A multivariate regression analysis was performed to examine the relationship between social support and QOL after controlling for annual household income and length of survivorship. In Phase II, individual in-depth interviews were conducted to understand social support experience from 29 survivors selected from Phase I. Interview data were transcribed and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results: Survivors reported a median support network size of 2.2 persons (interquartile range=1.2-3.8) and a median support satisfaction score of 5.5 (interquartile range=5-6). While support satisfaction was found to be associated with QOL, no association was found between support network size and QOL. Interview findings revealed that close family members and peer survivors constituted the major source of breast cancer survivors' support, especially in emotional and informational support aspects. Cultural factors played a role in the perception and utilization of support of the breast cancer survivors. Conclusions: This study has indicated that support satisfaction is more critical than support network size in influencing various aspects of survivors' QOL through the underlying different types of situation-specific support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)788-796
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Mixed methods study
  • Quality of life
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)

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