Social Support for Skin Cancer Patients: a Question of Attributions of the Support Provider


  • J. Meyer
  • J.P. Brückner
  • H. Hummert
  • A.K. Rode
  • M. Vollmann
  • C. Salewski


Background: The aim of this study was to examine attributions that may influence the willingness to provide social support to a patient diagnosed with skin cancer. Methods: In an experimental design, N=485 participants received written fictional scenarios in which the onset controllability of the cancer (non-self- vs. self-inflicted), the controllability of the course of the cancer (treatable vs. terminal), and the patient's coping behavior (norm-conforming vs. norm-violating) were systematically varied. Emotional reactions towards the patient (empathy, blame, anger) and the willingness to provide social support were measured. Findings: Results of an ANOVA showed that more support would be provided when onset controllability was attributed as non-self-inflicted (F(1,477)=11.24, p = .001, ?p2 = .023). Mediation analysis showed significant indirect effects from onset controllability, course controllability and coping behavior on support through empathy. Discussion: Attributions explain variance in the willingness to provide social support. Findings suggest that patients who may benefit most from support have a reduced chance to receiving it. Practical implications will be discussed.






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