Colorectal Cancer: Supportive Relationships

Background on Supportive Relationships

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expandWhat are supportive relationship strategies for colorectal cancer?

collapseWhat are supportive relationship strategies for colorectal cancer?

  • Supportive relationships strategies increase social support to improve colorectal cancer prevention through programs, events or activities involving individuals, organizations and communities. For more information about healthy lifestyle-related strategies, see Nutrition, Physical Activity and Tobacco.
  • Formal and informal relationships can affect the likelihood that individuals become screened. Formal relationships may include advice from a health care provider. Informal support may involve talking to friends or family members. One-on-one counseling or support offers an increased chance for individuals privacy and comfort in asking or sharing questions and offering pertinent health information.
  • These interventions may increase the information individuals have about colorectal cancer [informational support], provide opportunities to share experiences and feelings [emotional support], offer role models [appraisal support] or provide supportive services [tangible support].
  • These different types of support may be provided through involvement with
    • individuals, such as family members, friends, co-workers or neighbors;
    • organizations, such as community centers, worksites, health care facilities or faith-based organizations; or
    • community groups and members, such as advocacy organizations or community leaders.
  • Supportive relationships strategies can:
    • help to build awareness of the importance of colorectal cancer screening and healthy lifestyle behaviors in an organization or community;
    • provide information to help identify screening opportunities in the community;
    • increase the likelihood that patients or clients will use the services offered in the community; and
    • improve individual attitudes, beliefs and behaviors related to colorectal cancer risk factors (e.g., increase fruit and vegetable consumption) and screening.

expandHow can I use supportive relationship to improve colorectal cancer prevention?

collapseHow can I use supportive relationship to improve colorectal cancer prevention?

  • Supportive relationship interventions may be designed to discuss challenges and advice for colorectal cancer screening. 
  • Supportive relationships may be provided in the form of face-to-face interactions, telephone calls, e-mail or through interactive web-based systems. These interventions may include specific information as part of each interaction, or may be more open-ended and responsive to the specific needs of the individual.
  • These strategies may be directed to the individual or the individual’s support system including family, friends or co-workers.
  • Supportive relationships strategies are successful for many reasons:
    • Individuals can ask questions or clarify what they have been told.
    • Those providing support can also provide referrals and resources to assist the individual.
    • Longer-term relationships can help to sustain behavior change over time.

expandWhat are the different strategies to prevent or reduce colorectal cancer?

collapseWhat are the different strategies to prevent or reduce colorectal cancer?

  • Increase health care provider support for colorectal cancer screening and healthy lifestyle behaviors. For example, provider education can include information about common colorectal cancer concerns and barriers to help providers understand their patients’ or clients’ concerns.
  • Increase community support for colorectal cancer screening and healthy lifestyle behaviors. For example, radio talk shows can offer the opportunity to call in and have colorectal cancer questions answered on the air by experts.
  • Increase family support for colorectal cancer screening and healthy lifestyle behaviors. For example, family education groups for adults allow adults to discuss screening for older family members.
  • Lay health advisors support for colorectal cancer screening and healthy lifestyle behaviors. Lay health advisor interventions train people in the community about colorectal cancer risk factors and screening and ask them to provide this information to their peers through churches, schools, clubs or other settings.

expandWhat do I need to know to develop supportive relationships strategies?

collapseWhat do I need to know to develop supportive relationships strategies?

  • These strategies can be very successful when the support is tailored to the individual’s needs. In order to provide tailored advice to the individual, the person providing the support has to determine the individual’s characteristics, strengths and challenges.
  • Supportive relationships strategies may include an assessment of colorectal cancer screening status and knowledge as well as a discussion of barriers and benefits of screening and advice for creating and maintaining healthy lifestyle behavior change over time.
  • Supportive relationship strategies work best when the advice also takes into account the person’s gender, age, language, race or ethnicity, and other cultural factors. For example, older women have different needs for support than older men.
  • An individual’s readiness to change suggests that individuals may need different kinds of interventions to help them obtain colorectal cancer screening supports, depending on how ready they are to change their behaviors. Supportive relationships may be particularly important when people are ready to become screened. For example, supportive relationships can help to reinforce these decisions or behaviors that are changing.

expandWho do I work with to create supportive relationships strategies?

collapseWho do I work with to create supportive relationships strategies?

  • To get help with your supportive relationships strategies, you may want to work with the following individuals or groups:
    • civic or community organizations
    • community coalitions
    • community centers
    • universities
    • worksites
    • health departments
    • health care facilities
    • pharmacies
    • government agencies
    • researchers and evaluators
    • senior/independent living facilities
    • faith-based organizations
    • neighborhood organizations and community members
    • media, such as newspaper, billboards, television or radio
    • communications or advertising agencies
    • celebrities and professional athletes
    • advocacy organizations
    • formal support groups
    • individuals that have had a positive experience with colorectal screening

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