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The role of social support and self-esteem in the presence and course of depressive symptoms: a comparison of cancer patients and individuals from the general population

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  • Schroevers, Maya J.
  • Ranchor, Adelita V.
  • Sanderman, Robbert

Abstract

The key focus of this longitudinal study in the Netherlands was to determine the role of social support (i.e. perceived availability of emotional support, lack of received problem-focused emotional support, and negative interactions) and positive and negative self-esteem in depressive symptoms in 475 recently diagnosed cancer patients and 255 individuals without cancer from the general population. Patients and the comparison group were interviewed and filled in a questionnaire at two points in time: 3 months (T1) and 15 months (T2) after diagnosis. The results indicated that social support and self-esteem were weakly to moderately related to each other. Negative self-esteem was more strongly related to all three types of social support, compared to positive self-esteem. Regression analyses showed that social support and self-esteem were independently related to depressive symptoms (concurrently), such that lower levels of social support and self-esteem were strongly associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. This finding suggests that these two resources supplement each other additively. A longitudinal analysis showed that social support and self-esteem also predicted future levels of depressive symptoms, although the explained variance was much lower than in a cross-sectional analysis. Comparisons between cancer patients and the comparison group generally revealed no significant differences between the two groups in the associations of social support and self-esteem with depressive symptoms. The only exception was a lack of problem-focused emotional support. At three months after diagnosis, a lack of this type of support, characterised by reassuring, comforting, problem-solving, and advice, was more strongly related to depressive symptoms in patients than in the comparison group.

Suggested Citation

  • Schroevers, Maya J. & Ranchor, Adelita V. & Sanderman, Robbert, 2003. "The role of social support and self-esteem in the presence and course of depressive symptoms: a comparison of cancer patients and individuals from the general population," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 375-385, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:2:p:375-385
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    Cited by:

    1. Thompson, Tess & Rodebaugh, Thomas L. & Pérez, Maria & Struthers, James & Sefko, Julianne A. & Lian, Min & Schootman, Mario & Jeffe, Donna B., 2016. "Influence of neighborhood-level factors on social support in early-stage breast cancer patients and controls," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 55-63.
    2. Rodin, Gary & Lo, Christopher & Mikulincer, Mario & Donner, Allan & Gagliese, Lucia & Zimmermann, Camilla, 2009. "Pathways to distress: The multiple determinants of depression, hopelessness, and the desire for hastened death in metastatic cancer patients," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 562-569, February.
    3. Heponiemi, Tarja & Elovainio, Marko & Kivimäki, Mika & Pulkki, Laura & Puttonen, Sampsa & Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa, 2006. "The longitudinal effects of social support and hostility on depressive tendencies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(5), pages 1374-1382, September.
    4. Schroevers, Maya & Ranchor, Adelita V. & Sanderman, Robbert, 2006. "Adjustment to cancer in the 8 years following diagnosis: A longitudinal study comparing cancer survivors with healthy individuals," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 598-610, August.
    5. repec:eee:socmed:v:192:y:2017:i:c:p:134-142 is not listed on IDEAS

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