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Teen Cancer Survivors Have Strong Social Networks

New functional social network index shows connections stronger than those of non-cancer peers

TUESDAY, March 20, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Survivors of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer often have stronger social networks than their non-cancer peers, according to a study published online March 8 in Cancer.

I-Chan Huang, Ph.D., from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and colleagues developed and validated a functional social network index (FSNI) for AYA cancer survivors and compared its performance with two traditional indexes (density and betweenness centrality) among 102 AYA survivors and 102 non-cancer controls matched for age, sex, and race. The FSNI included marital status, contact frequency with friends/relatives, available resources for emotional and tangible support, and available resources for physical activity and weight management advice.

The researchers found that survivors were found to have more available resources for emotional support, tangible support, physical activity advice, and weight management advice versus the controls. The largest FSNI was seen in survivors of lymphoma, whereas the smallest was among survivors of central nervous system malignancies. A higher FSNI was associated with better coping skills, including less denial, using emotional support, using instrumental support, less behavioral disengagement, venting of emotions, positive reframing, planning for the future, and religious engagement.

“The FSNI appears to provide a better social network assessment for AYA cancer survivors than traditional indices,” the authors write.

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