Little is known about Latina breast cancer survivors’ social networks or their perceived social support to achieve and maintain a healthy diet. This paper describes the social networks and perceived support for healthy eating in a sample of breast cancer survivors of predominantly Dominican descent living in New York City.
Spanish-speaking Latina breast cancer survivors enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of a culturally tailored dietary intervention. Social networks were assessed using Cohen’s Social Network Index and a modified General Social Survey Social Networks Module that included assessments of shared health promoting behaviors. Perceived social support from family and friends for healthy, food-related behaviors was assessed.
Participants’ networks consisted predominantly of family and friends. Family members were more likely than other individuals to be identified as close network members. Participants were more likely to share food-related activities than exercise activities with close network members. Perceived social support for healthy eating was high, although perceived support from spouses and children was higher than support from friends. Despite high levels of perceived support, family was also identified as a barrier to eating healthy foods by nearly half of women.
Although friends are part of Latina breast cancer survivors’ social networks, spouses and children may provide greater support for healthy eating than friends.
Implications for Cancer Survivors
Involving family members in dietary interventions for Latina breast cancer survivors may tap into positive sources of support for women, which could facilitate uptake and maintenance of healthy eating behaviors.
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Cocinar Para Su Salud! was supported by the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health R21CA152903 (PI: Greenlee), and in part by Columbia University’s Clinical and Translational Science Award grant no. UL1TR000040 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences/National Institutes of Health. The preparation of this manuscript was also made possible by a Mentored Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society (124793-MRSG-13-152-01-CPPB) (PI: Rachel C. Shelton). We extend our gratitude to the Cook for Your Life staff and participants.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.
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Crookes, D.M., Shelton, R.C., Tehranifar, P. et al. Social networks and social support for healthy eating among Latina breast cancer survivors: implications for social and behavioral interventions. J Cancer Surviv 10, 291–301 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11764-015-0475-6
- Breast cancer
- Social support
- Social networks