Normative Social Support in Young Adult Cancer Survivors

Nicholas T. Iannarino*, Allison M. Scott, Sara Lynn Shaunfield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Following a cancer diagnosis, young adults (YAs; that is, 18-39) often experience altered social relationships with family, friends, romantic partners, and peers. In light of the social struggles YA patients and survivors report due to cancer's biographical disruption, we elicited narratives from 30 YA cancer survivors to examine how their normative perceptions of social support functioned to hinder and assist them in coping with the cancer experience. Through thematic narrative analysis of their individual accounts, YA survivors explained why and how they perceived various support attempts from peers and loved ones to be effective (i.e., being treated "normally"), ineffective (i.e., receiving pity, negative stories, rudeness, excessive self-monitoring, and returns from estrangement), and both effective and ineffective (e.g., instrumental and relational support) in integrating cancer into their biographies. Implications for the advancement of interpersonal communication theory and for the development of age-appropriate communication interventions, educational programs, and informational resources are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-284
Number of pages14
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • United States
  • biographical disruption
  • body image
  • cancer, psychosocial aspects
  • communication
  • families
  • fertility/infertility
  • lived experience
  • narrative inquiry
  • narrative interview method
  • qualitative
  • young adults, social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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