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Icelandic women’s identifications of stressors and social support in the diagnostic phase of breast cancer

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Title: Icelandic women’s identifications of stressors and social support in the diagnostic phase of breast cancer
Author: Fridfinnsdottir, Elsa Bjork
Degree Master of Nursing - MSN
Program Nursing
Copyright Date: 1995
Abstract: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Approximately one in ten Icelandic women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Women cope with breast cancer in a wide variety of ways. Social support is an important coping resource and is seen as mediating the effects of stress on individual's well-being and adjustment. The purpose of this descriptive exploratory research was to describe the nature of stressors Icelandic women identify in the diagnostic phase of breast cancer, what sources of social support they draw upon, and their satisfaction with the social support they receive. Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) theory of stress, appraisal, and coping was used as a theoretical framework for the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve women in the diagnostic phase of breast cancer. The diagnostic phase of breast cancer is a very stressful time in women's lives. Women experience the possibility of having cancer as an enormous threat, characterized by emotions like fear, anger, anxiety, restlessness, and sense of floating in the air. Women use emotion-focused coping throughout the diagnostic phase and, additionally, problem-focused coping after the diagnosis. Social support was a fundamental coping resource. Emotional support from husbands, family, and close friends was of utmost importance. Health professionals were not only the most important source of informational support but also a valuable source of emotional support. Acts people intended to be supportive, were in some cases perceived by the women as negative and a source of stress in themselves. Research findings define the supportive roles Icelandic health professionals should play in the diagnostic phase of breast cancer. Findings also provide a framework for further research on social support and breast cancer.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/3787
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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