Cancer support groups: the state of the art.

D. F. Cella*, S. B. Yellen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Support groups serve a large number of people with cancer, and their family members. Their popularity is grounded in the fact that the existing cancer treatment network continues to leave a gap of unmet psychosocial needs. These unmet needs can often be alleviated by mutual aid provided by people who share a common experience. Mutual aid complements professional help by adding a dimension of support that is best provided by other members of the group in need. Themes of discussion in support groups include the emotional impact of illness, the meaning of illness, family difficulty, problems of intimacy, sense of isolation/stigma, role changes, and cancer-specific concerns. Components of mutual aid witnessed in these groups include direct assistance, advice-giving, and emotional support. In cancer support groups, there is an under-representation of people of color, men, and the poor among group participants. Out-reach to underserved groups must include more creative and flexible helping mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-61
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • General Nursing


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