Social support and breast cancer screening in rural Appalachia

Brittany L. Smalls, Adaeze Aroh, Kristen McQuerry, Adebola Adegboyega, Nancy Schoenberg, Jennifer Hatcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Women in the Appalachian region have a high mortality rate attributable to cancer in spite of lower incidence of cancer compared with the general US population. Empirical evidence suggests that social support influences cancer outcomes, including adherence to screening guidelines and treatment recommendations. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of social support on breast cancer screening patterns in a sample of rural Appalachian women. Methods: This paper reports the results of analyses of baseline cross-sectional data on breast cancer screening collected during a community-based group-randomized trial. We used the 2010 National Health Institute Survey questionnaires and the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey to assess screening behavior and perceived social support, respectively. Data were analyzed using ANCOVA and ANOVA to assess the mean social support on breast cancer screening patterns (frequently, irregularly, and rarely/never) and relevant sociodemographic variables. Findings: Of the eligible participant records analyzed (N = 289), 50% were married, 36% were employed, 20% attended college, 40% had no mammogram in 6 years, and 20% never had mammograms. Overall social support score was high at 73.1 (SD = 18.2). Association between breast cancer screening patterns and social support scores was not statistically significant at α < 0.05 (P value = 0.09). Conclusions: Although social support as it measured in this study does not show significant associations with screening patterns, it is important to understand how social network structures may influence screening patterns. Familial and social roles/responsibilities that result in reported social support may also be the barrier to cancer screening and other prevention health behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2281-2288
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • breast cancer
  • community based
  • mammography
  • oncology
  • rural Appalachia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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