Social support and health-related quality of life in women with breast cancer: a longitudinal study

Leung, Janni, Pachana, Nancy A. and McLaughlin, Deirdre (2014) Social support and health-related quality of life in women with breast cancer: a longitudinal study. Psycho-Oncology, 23 9: 1014-1020. doi:10.1002/pon.3523

Author Leung, Janni
Pachana, Nancy A.
McLaughlin, Deirdre
Title Social support and health-related quality of life in women with breast cancer: a longitudinal study
Journal name Psycho-Oncology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1099-1611
Publication date 2014-09
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/pon.3523
Open Access Status
Volume 23
Issue 9
Start page 1014
End page 1020
Total pages 7
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract

A breast cancer diagnosis is a distressing event that impacts on physical and psychological functioning. This study examined the longitudinal relationships among a diagnosis of breast cancer, social support, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL).


Participants were 412 women from the 1946–1951 birth cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health who self-reported a new diagnosis of breast cancer between 1998 and 2007. The three surveys of longitudinal data analyzed included data 3 years before diagnosis, at diagnosis (baseline), and 3 years after diagnosis (follow-up). Social support was measured using the 19-item Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey; HRQOL was measured using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey.


Compared with pre-diagnosis HRQOL, women newly diagnosed with breast cancer reported significantly poorer HRQOL in subscales related to pain, physical functioning, and health and vitality. At 3-year follow-up, HRQOL had improved in most domains to levels consistent with pre-diagnosis. Levels of social support remained stable across time. The structural equation model showed that social support was positively predictive of better physical and mental HRQOL at 3-year follow-up.


Longitudinal analyses indicate that social support appears to be an important predictor of HRQOL in women diagnosed with breast cancer. In particular, positive emotional and informational support that may normally be provided by a partner is important in maintaining HRQOL. Identification of those lacking social support, especially patients without partners, will enable them to be guided to appropriate support networks and programs.
Keyword Social support
Breast cancer
Quality of life
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 29 Jan 2015, 09:38:43 EST by Nyree Divitini on behalf of School of Psychology