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“I Had the Guilt Trip of Helping Others”: Social Support, Identity Gaps, and Clinical Trials Decision-Making

Fri, May 22, 13:30 to 14:45, Caribe Hilton, San Cristobal Ballroom A


Using the community theory of identity (CTI) (Hecht, 1993) and social support (Goldsmith, 2004) as a theoretical framework, we extend this literature by exploring how individuals’ cancer illness identity and received social support created identity alignment or gaps (i.e., personal, enacted, relational, and communal), which in turn influenced cancer clinical trial decision-making. To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore multiple layers of illness identity and social support in relation to a specific treatment decision. In-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews (n = 46) were conducted with cancer patients. Patients were recruited from four cancer clinics if they were offered a randomized cancer clinical trial as a treatment option. Preliminary results suggest a possible relationship between individuals’ illness identity, received social support, and clinical trials decision. Implications for future clinical trial interventions are discussed.


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