Participants' perceptions of a peer-helper, telephone-based social support intervention for melanoma patients

Health Commun. 2001;13(3):285-305. doi: 10.1207/S15327027HC1303_4.


This descriptive study investigated perceptions of a peer-helper, telephone-based, social support intervention for melanoma patients receiving immunotherapy. Participants were 59 male and female Stage 3 or4 melanoma patients (helpees) at a Comprehensive Cancer Center and 29 former patients (helpers). Helpers were matched with helpees about to begin immunotherapy based on the site of the melanoma, age, and, when possible, biological sex. The intervention consisted of 2 required telephone contacts initiated by the helper before the helpee's first and second immunotherapy treatments. The reactions to this social support intervention were assessed using surveys and telephone interviews with both open- and closed-ended questions. Results indicated that (a) helpees became more sensitive and open to available social support in their environment; (b) helpers and helpees thought the intervention was effective; and (c) the telephone, as a medium for providing support, was a satisfactory substitute for face-to-face interaction. Limitations of the study and future directions for telephone-based support programs for melanoma patients are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / psychology
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Melanoma / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Peer Group*
  • Skin Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Social Support*
  • Telephone