FRIDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Having control over how to
communicate with family, friends and colleagues about their disease
helps cancer patients cope with their situation, according to a new
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin interviewed
cancer survivors about strategies they used in managing information
about their illness, how they handled conversations about their
condition, challenges they faced, advice they received, and
recommendations they would make to others.
The results showed that communication is an important element in
coping with cancer because it gives patients a sense of control
during an extremely difficult time, the researchers said.
But they also found that it's not possible to predict or control
other people's reactions, despite cancer patients' best efforts to
structure and control communication.
"Our study suggests that the very act of taking steps to be protective when communicating about cancer may benefit people because doing so empowers them during a time characterized by so much helplessness," Erin Donovan-Kicken, an assistant professor of communication studies, said in a university news release.
Cancer patients said it helped to be able to tell even
well-meaning family and friends that they needed space; that they
needed to focus on themselves without needing to support others;
and to avoid people who were sad or overly solicitous.
The study appeared in the August issue of the
Journal of Applied Communication Research.
The American Cancer Society offers tips for
coping with cancer in everyday life.