Understanding the social and community support networks of American Indian women cancer survivorsedit
Cancer is the leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women. Although cancer disparities among AI women are alarming, there is littlle research focused on the topic of social support and cancer treatment and outcomes. A community advisory board was used to develop and administer the project, and a qualitative descriptive study methodology was used. This research was conducted in partnership with two community-based hospitals in the Northern Plains. The sample included 43 AI female cancer survivors who were interviewed with a semi-structured interview guide. The data were analyzed using content analysis. Emergent themes revealed that AI cancer survivors’ non-familial support systems included friends (n = 12), support groups (n = 6), churches (n = 10), co-workers (n = 5), communities (n = 4), support from health practitioners (n = 3), and additional forms of support. Results indicate that survivors’ networks are diverse and support broad prevention programs that reach out to churches, community groups, and online forums. These sources of supports can be enhanced through sustainable community-based infrastructures.