Social influences on clinical outcomes of patients with ovarian cancer

Susan K. Lutgendorf, Koen De Geest, David Bender, Amina Ahmed, Michael J. Goodheart, Laila Dahmoush, M. Bridget Zimmerman, Frank J. Penedo, Joseph A. Lucci, Parvin Ganjei-Azar, Premal H. Thaker, Luis Mendez, David M. Lubaroff, George M. Slavich, Steven W. Cole, Anil K. Sood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Purpose: Previous research has demonstrated relationships of social support with disease-related biomarkers in patients with ovarian cancer. However, the clinical relevance of these findings to patient outcomes has not been established. This prospective study examined how social support relates to long-term survival among consecutive patients with ovarian cancer. We focused on two types of social support: social attachment, a type of emotional social support reflecting connections with others, and instrumental social support reflecting the availability of tangible assistance. Patients and Methods: Patients were prospectively recruited during a presurgical clinic visit and completed surveys before surgery. One hundred sixty-eight patients with histologically confirmed epithelial ovarian cancer were observed from the date of surgery until death or December 2010. Clinical information was obtained from medical records. Results: In a Cox regression model, adjusting for disease stage, grade, histology, residual disease, and age, greater social attachment was associated with a lower likelihood of death (hazard ratio [HR], 0.87; 95% CI, 0.77 to 0.98; P = .018). The median survival time for patients with low social attachment categorized on a median split of 15 was 3.35 years (95% CI, 2.56 to 4.15 years). In contrast, by study completion, 59% of patients with high social attachment were still alive after 4.70 years. No significant association was found between instrumental social support and survival, even after adjustment for covariates. Conclusion: Social attachment is associated with a survival advantage for patients with ovarian cancer. Clinical implications include the importance of screening for deficits in the social environment and consideration of support activities during adjuvant treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2885-2890
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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