Aims: To explore expected reactions of friends and its reasons from cancer survivors' perspectives.
Methods: Inclusion criteria were 1) Japanese cancer survivors aged twenty and over, and 2) those who were in both physically and psychologically stable. Potential participants were recruited by letter from several cancer self-help groups in Japan. Questionnaires were administered to 145 members, and 40 returned their completed questionnaires. Questionnaires include vignettes describing stories from the time of cancer diagnosis and the time of telling it to friends. Participants were asked to read vignettes, and then to response to open-ended questions. Additionally, demographics and cancer-related information was asked.
Analysis: Responses to vignettes were qualitatively analysed using a thematic analysis. Demographics and cancer-related information was analysed by descriptive statistics.
Results: The mean age of participants was 67.4 years. The mean years since cancer diagnosis were 12.7 years. Regarding expected friends’ responses to cancer disclosure, four themes were extracted: 1) playing passive roles (subcategories: look on me, listen to me, and accept me who develop cancer), 2) sharing my anxiety, 3) playing active roles (subcategories: encouragement, useful information provision about cancer, and advice on what I should do now), and 4) maintaining usual friendships. Regarding reasons for such expectations, five themes were extracted: 1) no ideas about cancer yet, 2) do not want to feel alone, 3) already some decisions in mind, 4) want more information to fight my cancer, 5) importance of usual everyday life.
Conclusions: Participants, who expected their friends to play passive roles, tended not to understand what was going on yet or tended to already decide to undergo surgery as doctors suggested. Participants, who expected their friends to play active roles, tended to be ready to fight against cancer.