Prostate cancer patients wanted

Bay of Plenty men diagnosed with prostate cancer are being called upon to participate in a survey on how they use social networks to help with their health.

Waikato University PhD student Dot Brown hopes to develop a scale medical people can use to identify whether men suffering from the cancer have got supportive networks or not.

“The medical system uses fairly traditional ways to find this out and only really accounts for family.

“I’m broadening it to include neighbours and people at the bowling club or anyone like that who could be supportive of men with this cancer,” says Dot.

She’ll use information from the surveys to develop a scale for medical professionals to assess patients’ networks to see whether they are supportive and can provide help when needed.

“Not everyone has supportive networks, for all sorts of reasons and the medial system isn’t good at recognising when people need help but can’t get it.

“It can be something as simple as needing transport for a hospital appointment but nobody is available to help.”

The research is part of Dot’s PhD, which she hopes to complete in three years. She needs 250 men diagnosed with prostate cancer to complete the survey.

“We know a lot about women and breast cancer and how they talk or use communication and how their social networks work but we don’t much about men.

“We don’t have information on how they use their social network contacts.”

Dot’s advertised widely for her survey and says the response supports the widely-held belief that men don’t talk about their health.

“Then on the other hand, men participating in the survey say: ‘We need more of this or more of that’.

“I think men’s health is gradually getting on the agenda here – I’m sort of on that bandwagon.”

Dot’s sic-page survey takes 15 minutes to complete, with emphasis on men’s networks and how men communicate with social contacts. “It’s not about medical stuff.”

To fill in the survey, call 022 103 2702 or email

The survey closes April 30.

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