Interrelationships between the structural and functional aspects of social relationships, comorbidity and health related quality of life in breast cancer survivors

Debarati Banerjee, The University of Texas School of Public Health


It is widely acknowledged in theoretical and empirical literature that social relationships, comprising of structural measures (social networks) and functional measures (perceived social support) have an undeniable effect on health outcomes. However, the actual mechanism of this effect has yet to be clearly understood or explicated. In addition, comorbidity is found to adversely affect social relationships and health related quality of life (a valued outcome measure in cancer patients and survivors). This cross sectional study uses selected baseline data (N=3088) from the Women's Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study. Lisrel 8.72 was used for the latent variable structural equation modeling. Due to the ordinal nature of the data, Weighted Least Squares (WLS) method of estimation using Asymptotic Distribution Free covariance matrices was chosen for this analysis. The primary exogenous predictor variables are Social Networks and Comorbidity; Perceived Social Support is the endogenous predictor variable. Three dimensions of HRQoL, physical, mental and satisfaction with current quality of life were the outcome variables. This study hypothesizes and tests the mechanism and pathways between comorbidity, social relationships and HRQoL using latent variable structural equation modeling. After testing the measurement models of social networks and perceived social support, a structural model hypothesizing associations between the latent exogenous and endogenous variables was tested. The results of the study after listwise deletion (N=2131) mostly confirmed the hypothesized relationships (TLI, CFI >0.95, RMSEA = 0.05, p=0.15). Comorbidity was adversely associated with all three HRQoL outcomes. Strong ties were negatively associated with perceived social support; social network had a strong positive association with perceived social support, which served as a mediator between social networks and HRQoL. Mental health quality of life was the most adversely affected by the predictor variables. This study is a preliminary look at the integration of structural and functional measures of social relationships, comorbidity and three HRQoL indicators using LVSEM. Developing stronger social networks and forming supportive relationships is beneficial for health outcomes such as HRQoL of cancer survivors. Thus, the medical community treating cancer survivors as well as the survivor's social networks need to be informed and cognizant of these possible relationships.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Social studies education|Public health|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Banerjee, Debarati, "Interrelationships between the structural and functional aspects of social relationships, comorbidity and health related quality of life in breast cancer survivors" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3241394.