YAC Prime: Social support and body image among young adult cancer survivors

YAC Prime: Social support and body image among young adult cancer survivors

We’re releasing abstracts from the #YACPrime presentations held at #IPOS2019; click here for more!

Objectives: Cancer treatment in young adults (YAs) causes appearance-related changes including scarring, weight change, and hair loss, which can affect perceptions of body image long into survivorship. Poor body image may be related to lower perceptions of relevant and valuable social support in YAs. Conversely, perceptions of social support may help to buffer negative body image, but the evidence is scant in YA. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between social support and body image among YA cancer survivors.

Methods: YAs who participated in the YAC Prime Study (n=526; Mage=34 years) completed self-report questionnaires on social support and body image. Social support was measured using the Medical Outcomes Survey – Social Support Scale. This is comprised of four domains: emotional and informational support (e.g., someone to confide in), tangible support (e.g., someone to help you), affectionate support (e.g., someone who shows you love and affection), and positive interaction (e.g., someone to get together with for relaxation). Body image was measured using the Body Image Scale.

Results: All types of social support were significantly correlated with body image (rs = –.17 to -.28; ps<.001). Based on a multiple regression model, social support explained eight per cent of the variance in body image (F(4,521)=11.28, p<.001) and emotional and informational support was a significant predictor of body image (B=-.23, p<.001), while the other social support domains were not.

Conclusions and clinical implications: Programs and interventions targeting body image in YA cancer survivors should emphasize social support, particularly emotional and informational support, to help reduce negative body image experiences.


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