Variations between sources of social support and cancer screen behaviors in U.S. Chinese older adults

Xinqi Dong, Andi Liu

Publication Date: 07/01/2017

Background: Social support is a key indicator of utilization of preventive health care among older adults, but we have limited knowledge on these associations in U.S. Chinese older adults. This study aims to examine the association between sources of social support and cancer screening behaviors among Chinese older adults in the greater Chicago area. Methods: Data were drawn from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago. Social supports were measured by asking the frequency of receipt of support from spouse, non-spouse family members, and friends. Use of cancer screenings were evaluated by asking the history of utilization of colon, breast, cervical, and prostate cancer screenings. Results: After adjusting for covariates, results indicated significant association between higher social support and higher utilization of cancer screenings. Regarding to different sources of social support, higher levels of social supports from family members (odds ratio [OR], 1.15 [1.07, 1.25]) and friends (OR, 1.14 [1.06, 1.23]) were associated with higher utilization of breast cancer screening. However, higher levels of social support from family members (OR, 0.94 [0.88, 0.99]) and friends (OR, 0.94 [0.88, 1.00]) were associated with lower utilization of colon cancer screening. No associations were found between social support and prostate cancer screening. Conclusions: This study provides evidence that different types of social support were associated with variations in the utilization of cancer screenings. Future longitudinal studies are needed to explore the causal relationship between social support and cancer screening use.