The Development of Social Relationships, Social Support, and Posttraumatic Growth in a Dragon Boating Team for Breast Cancer Survivors

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Physical activity experiences may contribute to psychological and social wellbeing among breast cancer survivors. The main purpose of the current study was to qualitatively explore the development of social relationships, social support, and posttraumatic growth among breast cancer survivors participating in a dragon boat program over 19 months. Guided by interpretative phenomenological analysis (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009), semistructured interviews were conducted with 17 breast cancer survivors on five occasions over their first two seasons of dragon boating. Narrative accounts were developed for each participant, and four profiles emerged describing processes of social and posttraumatic growth development over time: “developing a feisty spirit of survivorship,” “I don’t want it to be just about me,” “it’s not about the pink it’s about the paddling,” and “hard to get close.” Profiles were discussed in terms of developing social relationships and support, providing support to others, physicality and athleticism, and negative interactions and experiences.

Meghan H. McDonough is with Health and Kinesiology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Catherine M. Sabiston is with Kinesiology and Physical Education, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada. Sarah Ullrich-French is with Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA.