This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables offer an informative look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, they should be viewed with some caution. In order to read and interpret research tables successfully, it is important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.
Introduction: People get social support through interactions with other people, including family members, friends, neighbors, spiritual advisors and health care providers, called co-survivors. There is growing evidence from prospective cohort studies that social support increases quality of life after breast cancer. However, it remains unclear whether it improves survival.
Randomized controlled trials do not show a survival benefit from support groups for breast cancer survivors (see Table 52). However, the large prospective cohort studies below suggest that survivors with more social support have better survival.
The differences in results may be due to the types of social support studied. Cohort studies have mostly studied the social support people get from existing social networks, such as friends and family. In contrast, randomized trials have mostly studied social support from strangers, such as cancer survivor support groups. Further studies are needed to know whether there is a difference between these two kinds of social support and breast cancer survival.
Study selection criteria: Prospective cohort studies with at least 60 participants.
Study Population(number of participants)
Better Survival in Breast Cancer Survivors with the Most Social Support Compared to Those with the Least?
Yes / No
Prospective cohort studies
Kroenke et al. 
Kroenke et al. 
Epplein et al. 
Reynolds et al. 
Phillips et al. 
Chou et al. 
Maunsell et al. 
Waxler-Morrison et al. 
Lehto et al. 
Giraldi et al. 
Weihs et al. 
Cousson-Gélie et al. 
Osborne et al. 
* Findings showed survivors with higher levels of social support had lower rates of death due to any cause than survivors with lower levels of social support. Rates of death due to breast cancer were similar between the groups.
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