MALNUTRITION AMONG CANCER PATIENTS: ROLE OF SOCIAL SUPPORT
Malnutrition is linked with poorer outcomes following cancer treatment. This study determined the association between marital status, nutritional status and social support among cancer patients. This was a cross-sectional study involving 82 cancer patients receiving both outpatient and inpatient cancer treatment at Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM). Parameters investigated were socio-demography, nutritional status and social support. Nutritional status was assessed using the Patient Generated-Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA) while social support using Multidimensional Perceived Social Support Scales (MSPSS). Chi-Square or Fisher Exact test had been used for analysing the association between the variables. The prevalence of malnutrition assessed using PG-SGA was 69.5%. A total of 61% of the cancer patients experienced weight loss within a month. There was a statistically significant association between malnutrition and social support (p<0.05). A total of 63.6% of the patients with high social support from friends reported having weight loss while 52.6% of those with moderate social support had weight gain. Good social support will determine the good quality of life among cancer patients, however, there were several other factors such as stage of cancer, the side effect of cancer treatment and poor dietary intake that determine the nutritional status of cancer patients. Thus, a holistic approach involving a multidisciplinary team must be taken for monitoring and improve the health status of cancer patients.
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