The need to be Superman: The psychosocial support challenges of young men affected by cancer

Brad Love, Charee M. Thompson, Jessica Knapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose/Objectives: To investigate how gender-specific issues shape the experiences of young adult men with cancer and what they report to be problematic. Research Approach: A qualitative, descriptive approach. Setting: Website, focus group in the southwestern United States, and phone interviews throughout the United States. Participants: Text from an online forum (N = 3,000 posts), focus group of six men, and separate interviews with four men. Methodologic Approach: Data analysis took place over two months through constant comparison of online text as well as a focus group and interview transcripts. Findings: Men face challenges being both a receiver and provider of support in relationships with their peers, romantic partners, and children. Cultural expectations to "be strong" drive their support-seeking beliefs and behaviors. Conclusions: Men report conflict between desires to show strength and to be honest that present a barrier to support, as well as contribute to inadequate relationships with male peers and greater difficulty in exchanging support with romantic partners. Interpretation: The authors identified attitudes about and barriers to men's experiences with social support, which healthcare providers, such as nurses, should be sensitive to when developing and providing support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E21-E27
JournalOncology Nursing Forum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Masculinity
  • Men
  • Social support
  • Young adult cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


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