Social networks and survival after breast cancer diagnosis

Jeannette M. Beasley, Polly A. Newcomb, Amy Trentham-Dietz, John M. Hampton, Rachel M. Ceballos, Linda Titus-Ernstoff, Kathleen M. Egan, Michelle D. Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Evidence has been inconsistent regarding the impact of social networks on survival after breast cancer diagnosis. We prospectively examined the relation between components of social integration and survival in a large cohort of breast cancer survivors. Methods: Women (N = 4,589) diagnosed with invasive breast cancer were recruited from a population-based, multi-center, case-control study. A median of 5.6 years (Interquartile Range 2.7-8.7) after breast cancer diagnosis, women completed a questionnaire on recent post-diagnosis social networks and other lifestyle factors. Social networks were measured using components of the Berkman-Syme Social Networks Index to create a measure of social connectedness. Based on a search of the National Death Index, 552 deaths (146 related to breast cancer) were identified. Adjusted hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression. Results: Higher scores on a composite measure of social connectedness as determined by the frequency of contacts with family and friends, attendance of religious services, and participation in community activities was associated with a 15-28% reduced risk of death from any cause (p-trend = 0.02). Inverse trends were observed between all-cause mortality and frequency of attendance at religious services (p-trend = 0.0001) and hours per week engaged in community activities (p-trend = 0.0005). No material associations were identified between social networks and breast cancer-specific mortality. Conclusions: Engagement in activities outside the home was associated with lower overall mortality after breast cancer diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-380
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer
  • Mortality
  • Oncology
  • Social networks
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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