Perceived unsupportive responses from close others play an important role in psychological adaptation of patients with cancer. Little is known about whether these negative responses change after someone experiences a serious life event, and even less is known about the individual characteristics and related factors that might contribute to both the levels of and changes in perceived unsupportive responses over the course of adaptation to an experience. This longitudinal study aimed to evaluate changes in perceived unsupportive behavior from family and friends among women newly with gynecologic cancer as well as initial demographic, disease, and psychological factors that predict the course of perceived unsupportive behavior over time. Women (N = 125) assigned to the usual care arm of a randomized clinical trial comparing a coping and communication intervention with a supportive counseling intervention to usual care completed six surveys over an 18 month period. Growth models using multilevel modeling were used to predict unsupportive responses over time. Average levels of perceived unsupportive responses from family and friends were low. Unsupportive responses varied from patient to patient, but patients did not report a systematic change in perceived unsupportive responses over time. Cultivating meaning and peace and coping efficacy were associated with fewer perceived unsupportive responses as well as reductions in perceived unsupportive responses over time. Emotional distress, cancer concerns, functional impairment, holding back sharing concerns, and cognitive and behavioral avoidance predicted higher perceived unsupportive responses over time. The findings are discussed in terms of the self-presentation theory and social network responses to persons undergoing difficult life events.
- Communication with family and friends
- Gynecological cancer
- Support provision
- Unsupportive behavior