Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Men and Support Groups

Lieberman (2008) found men were far less inclined to partake of group support, even though slightly more than half of all cancers occur in men. After reading Lieberman, I thought about why men are, in fact, underrepresented in these groups. In my personal experience, men are well-represented in the online forum of which I am a member. This forum, however, is an information exchange as well as a place to receive and offer emotional support.

Men find far less value in discussing their feelings than do women (Wood & Inman, 1993). Additionally, Klemm, Hurst, Dearholt & Trone (1999) found in a mixed gender online support group, men were far more likely to seek and give information, whereas women tended to offer and need emotional support. This may be an important finding, especially when one is working with a group of men who see no value in sitting around comiserating with a group of other cancer patients. These same men may thrive as part of an online support group.

I went back into the archives of the online support group of which I am a member, to see the quality of gender specific messages. My findings were in agreement with Lieberman's (2008) and Klemm et al.'s (1999) that men are more geared to information seeking rather than emotional support. I found women giving comfort and support and the men offering and asking for information. Interesting!


Klemm, P., Hurst, M., Dearholt, S. L., & Trone, S. R. (1999). Gender differences on Internet cancer support groups. Computers in Nursing, 17(2), 65-72.

Lieberman, M. (2008). Gender and online cancer support groups: issues facing male cancer patients. Journal Of Cancer Education, 23(3), 167-171.

Wood, J. T., & Inman, C. C. (1993). In A Different Mode: Masculine Styles of Communicating Closeness. Journal Of Applied Communication Research, 21(3), 279.

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