Applied Psychology OPUS

Peer Mentorship and the Well-being of Women with Breast Cancer

Sarah Fox

Faculty Mentor | Dr. Adina Schick

Breast cancer affects an extensive number of women in the United States each year, be they survivors or current patients. Both patients and survivors have unique social support needs. Peer mentorship (PM), an intervention in which breast cancer survivors act as mentors toward women currently going through treatment for breast cancer, could simultaneously provide aid for both patients and survivors. These programs provide social support to patients and give survivors an opportunity to make meaning from their cancer experience by helping another woman navigate her own. However, very little is known about outcomes of peer mentorships for patients and even less is known about survivor outcomes. This research proposal seeks to evaluate the efficacy of a peer mentorship intervention on the well-being of breast cancer patients and survivors. The proposed study will use patients and survivors from the Reach to Recovery peer mentorship program run by the American Cancer Society in the treatment group and patients and survivors sampled from five United States hospitals in the control group. Measures of quality of life will be compared between patients participating and not participating in PM, survivors participating and not participating in PM, and patients and survivors participating in PM. Positive outcomes from the proposed study could provide evidence for an intervention which could help patient through the difficult physical and emotional experience of breast cancer treatment, as well as provide survivors with a resource to increase their own quality of life while bringing attention to their unique needs as survivors.