Background: Treatment for head-and-neck cancer (HNC) can lead to severe decrements in disease-specific quality of life (DSQOL) due to disfigurement and disability in speech, eating, and/or breathing. Psychosocial factors such as social support may explain individual variance in DSQOL outcomes. Objective: The researchers sought to evaluate changes in perceived availability of social support from pretreatment to posttreatment and to determine whether decreases in perceived social support predicted poorer posttreatment DSQOL among HNC patients, controlling for disease- and treatment-related factors. Methods: Participants (n = 32) were newly diagnosed with HNC and were awaiting surgery and/or radiation treatment. Measures included the ENRICHD Social Support instrument (ESSI) to assess perceived social support and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Head & Neck (FACT-H&N) to assess DSQOL. Paired-samples t-tests and hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to determine relationships between pretreatment and posttreatment perceived social support and DSQOL. Results: Perceived social support decreased significantly from pre- to posttreatment (F = -2.71, P < .01). After adjusting for relevant covariates and pretreatment DSQOL, change in perceived social support remained a significant predictor of posttreatment DSQOL (β = .47, P < .01). Limitations: This study included a relatively small sample of HNC patients, which limited power to evaluate mechanisms of observed relationships. Conclusions: Increased social isolation may be a risk factor for poorer physical recovery from, or adjustment to, treatment-related side effects. Social support may be an important target for psychosocial interventions for patients who face challenging treatment side effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)