Social support and coping means: the lived experiences of Northeastern Thai women with breast cancer. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Social support plays a critical role in how women living with breast cancer deal with their diagnosis and treatment. This article discusses the meanings of breast cancer and the experiences of social support among women living with breast cancer in Northeastern Thailand (Isan). In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 women with breast cancer. Data were analysed using the thematic analysis method. Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be a traumatic experience. However, many women with breast cancer managed to deal with their illnesses and treatments and this was based largely on social support they received. Available support from family members, friends, neighbours, religion and health care professionals was essential for them to deal with their breast cancer. Social support was an important component for the provision of good care for these women and women living with breast cancer. Although medical treatments were essential for breast cancer, social support could enhance the effectiveness of the treatments as it helped women to have positive perspectives about their health conditions and to better deal with their illnesses. Our findings are useful for sensitive health promotion for women with breast cancer in Thailand and elsewhere. Social support should be modified to meet the woman's individual needs. Health professionals are an important source of social support for women with breast cancer. Having an understanding and being sensitive to these women's experiences and challenges means that health care professionals can provide more individualised support and care to women during their vulnerable period of life.

publication date

  • 2015