Family:the strength of support

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Coyne, Elisabeth
Wollin, Judy
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Patsy Yates
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O-026 - Family : The Strength Of Suport Elisabeth Coyne, RN, RM, BN, MN Hons, PhD Candiate - Griffith University, Australia The family often forms the main source of support for younger women during breast cancer treatment, which tends to occur in the outpatient setting with little sustained contact with health professionals. While this support is increasingly acknowledged; currently there is little understanding of the family's role and strengths (communication, leadership, coping styles), or how they may be used to enhance treatment outcomes. Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis for women world wide (World Health Organisation WHO, 2006), with approximately one in eight women in Australia diagnosed each year under the age of 75 years (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare AIHW, 2007). The incidence for women under fifty years of age accounts for 25% of all breast cancer cases in Australia (AIHW, 2007) however there is not a corresponding rate of focused research on this cohort to increase the understanding of the needs of this age group. One of the important considerations for this age group is their life phase, which is often premenopausal and with family responsibilities (AIHW, 2007; Dunn & Steginga, 2000). Hence diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in younger women may cause significant life and family role disruptions that subsequently have repercussions through the whole-of-family for an extended period (Bloom, Stewart, Johnston, Banks, & Fobair, 2001). Research to date, indicates that although health professionals provide support and education for individual women, this has little long-term acknowledgement of the strengths and influence from the family on the long term family function and adaptation (Mellon & Northouse, 2001). The family is a dynamic group of individuals who bring different strengths to the family adaptation. This paper presents the literature and early findings exploring the strengths of the family. It aims to increase our understanding of the complex nature of the family and their functional and supportive roles during therapy for breast cancer; the strengths of the family, thus enhancing the long term adaptation of younger women with breast cancer. AIHW (2007) Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Retrieved 2007 from Bloom, JR Stewart, SL, Johnston, M, Banks, P, & Fobair, P (2001) Sources of support and the physical and mental well-being of young women with breast cancer. Social Science & Medicine, 53(11), 1513 - 1524. Dunn, J, & Steginga, SK (2000) Young women's experience of breast cancer: Defining young and identifying concerns. Psycho-Oncology, 9, 137-146. Mellon, S & Northouse, L (2001). Family survivorship and quality of life following a cancer diagnosis. Research in Nursing & Health, 24(6), 446-459. WHO (2006) World Health Organisation. Retrieved 2006 from

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Family: the strength of support
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