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Title: The meaning of social support : a descriptive study of informal networks and of health visitors' formal role in supporting the identity of women with breast cancer
Author: Lugton, Jean
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1994
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This thesis emerged from the writers' experience in nursing education and her clinical involvement with patients with breast cancer. The main theme connecting patients' problems was the threat to their identities from breast cancer. Respondents perceived social support to be actions/attitudes from formal or informal sources which maintained their established identities or assisted changes to their identities. They identified seven types of informal support. Quantity of relationships was important to respondents because they sought a variety of support types. Quality of relationships (closeness) was also important in maintaining key aspects of respondents' identities. Close involvement of health visitors with some respondents limited the extent of their support. Respondents faced 6 identity crises and had to move to move through these crises towards recovery, reevaluating themselves and accepting changes in identity. Failure to cope meant that women's identities remained under threat and the crisis was unresolved. Support was ineffective if given after a crisis had passed. During crisis points, respondents needed both formal and informal support to avoid negative and encourage positive self concepts. Appraisal support was a distinguishing aspect of professional support, helping patients to continually assess their situations. Respondents' coping ability was increased by the availability of health visitors who had an important role in building up their identities. Nurses promoted respondents' informal support by assessing their support needs, preserving existing support and encouraging further informal support. Nurses must increase their skills in building up clients' identities and avoid practices which undermine these identities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available