The Role of ‘Third Place’ Social Support in Cancer Patients’ Quality of Life

Mark S. Rosenbaum, Northern Illinois University
Jill Smallwood, Living Well Cancer Resource Center

To date, cancer centers have operated under the premise that they were offering cancer patients and survivors healthful benefits by offering them an array of courses and activities. This work reveals that a cancer center’s courses and activities per se do not influence a patron’s quality of life. Indeed, a center’s courses and activities serve as a natural forum for nurturing employee- patron social support, which significantly improves a cancer patient’s perceived emotional, social, and cognitive well-being. Rather than permit employee-patron social support to emerge perchance and inconsistently among its patrons, Living Well Cancer Resource Center has altered its practices. Living Well is now strategically managing in-house social support by sending its employees to oncology practices to meet with cancer patients at the point of their initial cancer diagnosis. Hence, newly diagnosed cancer patients may receive immediate dosages of therapeutic medical procedures (i.e., surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation) and social support, which together represents a “complete” solution to cancer health care and to a cancer patient’s health and well-being.

 

This paper is published in Annals of Internal Medicine, February 2, 2010, pp. 182-185.