Communication Networks of Men with Prostate Cancer
Brown, D. R. (2013). Communication Networks of Men with Prostate Cancer (Thesis, Master of Management Studies (MMS)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7849
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7849
Prostate cancer can be a difficult disease to manage but men who are diagnosed with it have networks of others around them who can be ready to offer support through the treatment. The effectiveness with which these networks can be mobilised is partly determined by the willingness of men to disclose their diagnosis. The main purpose of this research was to determine both the structure and content of the networks of men who have recently had a biopsy for prostate cancer. This qualitative study was conducted from an egocentric network perspective in which nodes and ties are fundamental features; nodes being the individuals or groups within a network and ties the relationships between them. All men who were on the waiting list for a prostate biopsy were eligible to be included in this study. A total of 41 men participated and completed a semi-structured interview that sought to elicit who were in the men’s networks and what was talked about. Particular emphasis was placed on the types of relationships together with the context in which they existed. Only 22 interviews from participants who received a positive biopsy were used for the analysis. A thematic analysis of the transcriptions enabled assessments to be made of which individuals and organisations were important and their relationships to the ego at this point in the medical process. The findings revealed that network structure is comprised of both general and health communication networks. General networks were those in everyday life and were determined by relationship status, employment status and geographical proximity of the men’s immediate family. Health communication networks were based around health issues and the factors which influenced these were men’s previous medical experience or whether they had medical professionals in their immediate family. Network content is the communication which occurs between individuals and the major theme concerns disclosure. The men’s decision about whether to disclose their prostate issues to others in their networks was based on the perceived presence of four factors in others: homophily, close proximity, strong ties and the professional or personal medical experience of others. Discerning if one or more of these factors were present in others, the men were increasingly likely to disclose about their own health. The second theme examined the tensions which existed between the benefits and barriers to disclosure. This depended on individuals and the context and were managed by the men when assessing each situation on a case-by-case basis. Theoretical implications of this research concern the recognition and functionality of health communication networks together with the four factors of disclosure. Future research would be focused around a longitudinal study to assess the dynamic nature of egocentric networks in responding to chronic illness. In addition, networks of single men and the value of siblings could be identified. Emphasis on the practical implications involve identifying and promoting favourable opportunities for disclosure to benefit the men who can receive support from their networks.
University of Waikato
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