Item Details

How working women navigate communication privacy management boundaries when seeking social support during cancer treatment

Issue: Vol 15 No. 3 (2018)

Journal: Communication & Medicine

Subject Areas: Healthcare Communication Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/cam.34969


Working women diagnosed with cancer face difficult decisions about disclosing personal information. A 2017 survey for Cancer and Careers, a non-profit organization assisting cancer patients and survivors with finding and continuing employment, found that women are more likely than men to share their diagnosis with work colleagues, and do so more often to feel supported by co-workers. However, disclosure guidelines for communication about having cancer are difficult to establish, as they may vary widely depending on the individual and the situation. Most research about health self-disclosure has focused on the initial decision to divulge that one has an illness and on the depth of that initial disclosure. The current study was designed to further describe how working women navigate disclosures not only during the initial diagnosis, but throughout treatment and into recovery to gain needed social support. Using the typology of social support and the tenets of Communication Privacy Management Theory, the goal of this study is to share individual narratives of how working women change privacy rules to procure the type of social support needed in each stage of their experience.

Author: Donna M. Elkins

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