Social Support and Survival: a Longitudinal Study of Blood and Lymphoid Cancer Patients After Allogeneic hct
1Columbia University, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, USA
Background: Close relationships have been linked to morbidity and mortality in healthy individuals and patient populations, with effect sizes comparable to risk factors such as smoking and obesity (e.g., Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010). The pathways that explain the protective effect of close relationships are still unknown. The current study aims to understand the link between social support from a dedicated caregiver to survival in blood and lymphoid cancer patients after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant. Methods: We present data from a retrospective study of patient charts (N = 117) and a prospective multi-method study (N = 30). Findings: Caregiver presence correlated with increased probability for survival post-allogeneic transplant. The multi-method study pointed to concrete caregiver support strategies facilitating survival during this harsh treatment (e.g., practical support for daily medication and fluid intake, nutrition, healthcare system navigation; emotional support: encouragement and calming presence). Discussion: The findings underscore the need for studying the links between support strategies with health outcomes.