Original Article

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 79-90

First online:

Direct and Buffering Effects of Social Support Among Gynecologic Cancer Survivors

  • Kristen M. CarpenterAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The Ohio State University Email author 
  • , Jeffrey M. FowlerAffiliated withComprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University Medical Center
  • , G. Larry MaxwellAffiliated withGynecologic Disease Center and U.S. Military Cancer Institute, Walter Reed Army Medical Center
  • , Barbara L. AndersenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The Ohio State UniversityComprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University Medical Center

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There are few studies of QoL among long-term gynecologic cancer survivors; available data suggest significant sequelae of disease and treatment. Research clarifying circumstances that improve difficult survivorship trajectories is lacking.


The present study examines whether social support moderates the relationship between physical functioning and psychological outcomes by testing the stress-buffering hypothesis.


Participants (N = 260) were gynecologic cancer survivors (cervical, n = 47; endometrial, n = 133; ovarian, n = 69; vulvar, n = 11). Compromised physical health was conceptualized as multidimensional. Social support (SNI, PSS-Fa, PSS-Fr, ISEL) was tested as a buffer of adverse psychological outcomes (IES-R, CES-D).


Results for traumatic stress provided evidence for buffering; whereas social support was of general benefit for depressive symptoms. Effects varied by source and type of support.


These results suggest that circumstances for gynecologic cancer survivors burdened with physical symptoms may be worse for those with fewer support resources, providing needed insight into a common target of psychosocial interventions for cancer survivors.


Gynecologic cancer Cancer survivorship Social support Traumatic stress Depressive symptoms