Background. The role of support groups for cancer patients is known to be beneficial in helping people adjust to the disease, and cope with the myriad of effects that cancer has on quality of life. Although many people express interest in attending such support groups, few attend regularly. It is unclear what characteristics distinguish those who use such services from those who do not, especially among proton therapy patients.
Objective. To examine demographic and psychosocial characteristics associated with the Brotherhood of the Balloon (BOB) prostate cancer support group membership, a unique treatment-focused group originating at Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC).
Method. This retrospective cross-sectional study included a sample of 274 out of 495 patients (55.4% response rate), who received proton and proton plus photon mixed beam therapy in 2006 for early stage prostate cancer. Participants received a self-report survey via regular mail which assessed beliefs about support groups and perceived levels of support, helpful support group experiences, multidimensional health locus of control (LOC) beliefs, general and specific prostate cancer related anxieties, information source preferences, and physical functioning, and decisional regret. Patients were also given the option of completing an online version of the survey.
Results. Bivariate analyses were performed using BOB membership as the independent variable. Over half (58.9%, n=159) were BOB members, with almost half (45.9%) joining BOB during treatment. Support group members were more involved in support group activities both during and after treatment (both p-values80% highly functioning). Mean levels of sexual functioning and libido were lower at 50%, and 44%, respectively. Support group members were more likely to rely on non-physician sources of information, and non-members on physician sources both following treatment and currently (both p-values < .001), had more positive beliefs regarding the benefits of support groups, and perceived support group experiences as helpful (both p-values < .001). Level of BOB support group participation was inversely associated with External LOC Doctor scale scores (ELOC-D) compared to nonmembers (r = -.13, p < .05). Patients with more positive support group experiences, had higher Internal LOC (r = .22), ELOC - Others scores (r = .23), and ELOC - God scores (r = .34; all p-values < .01). Patients reported little anxiety about prostate cancer, PSA levels, and fear of recurrence. Mean levels of functioning were high for bowel, urinary, and hormonal domains ( > 80% highly functioning). Mean levels of sexual functioning and libido were lower at 50%, and 44%, respectively. Support group members were more likely to rely on non-physician sources of information, and non-members on physician sources both following treatment and currently (both p-values < .001). In the multiple regression analyses, Gleeson scores (β = -.04, p = .009), education (β =. 10, p = .001), perceived support group benefits (β = .39, p < .001), positive support group experiences (β = .10, p < .001), ELOC-Doctor (β = -.07, p = .02), and non-physician source of information (β = -.14, p ≤ .05) were all independently associated with BOB participation level (R2.43, p < 001).
Implications for psychology and preventive care. A better understanding of the characteristics of participants may help practitioners design groups that are more attractive to current non-participants. Perceptions about the benefits and usefulness of support groups, and degree of reliance on physicians, play a key role in understanding support group participation.
School of Public Health
Helen Hopp Marshak
M. Catherine Freier
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Prostatic Neoplasms -- psychology; Protons -- therapeutic use; Radiotherapy, High-Energy; Psychotherapy, Group -- methods; Group Processes -- education; Patient Participation -- psychology; Stress, Psychological -- prevention & control; Internal-External Control; Retrospective Studies.
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Davis, Carol A. L., "The Relationship Between the Level of Support Group Participation and Psychosocial Factors in Prostate Cancer Patients Treated with Proton Therapy" (2010). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 1525.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives