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About One in Four Cancer Survivors Use Support Groups

Use varies by cancer type

THURSDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- About one-quarter of cancer survivors have used a health-related support group, with use varying by cancer type, according to the results of a California study published online May 14 in Cancer.

Jason E. Owen, Ph.D., from Loma Linda University in California, and colleagues analyzed data from a 2003 telephone survey of 1,844 individuals with cancer and 4,951 individuals with other chronic health problems (all living in California) regarding their use of health-related support groups.

The researchers found that use of support groups was more common in cancer survivors than in those with other health problems (23.7 versus 14.5 percent). Breast cancer survivors were most likely to use support groups, and only 11.2 percent of cancer survivors used a cancer-specific support group. Women, non-Hispanic whites, those who used complementary and alternative medicine, those with higher education and those with depression or anxiety were more likely to use support groups. Only 10.2 percent of participants said their physician recommended a support group.

"Health-related support groups are widely available, and nearly one in four survivors use a support group at some point after their diagnosis," Owen and colleagues conclude. "Assistance in identifying and accessing support groups should be a standard of care for all patients receiving curative, follow-up or palliative care for cancer."

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