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Friendship in Adolescents and Young Adults With Experience of Cancer

A Dimensional Analysis

Evered, Jane A. BSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000686
Article: PDF Only

Background Friendship is a complex social phenomenon important to human development, emotional health, and socialization. While making and maintaining peer friends are an emphasized task of adolescent and young adult development, the multidimensional experience of friendship is incompletely defined, particularly in the context of adolescents and young adults with cancer.

Objective The aim of this study was to investigate the nature of friendship more deeply and completely by breaking down and then rebuilding meaning in this phenomenon.

Methods The author searched 8 databases for relevant literature and conducted a dimensional analysis of the textual data from articles found in database searches and theoretical sampling. Dimensional analysis was an inductive process of determining all the components and attributes of the friendship concept. The author broke down and built up the meaningful units of friendship until a story of friendship in adolescents and young adults with experience of cancer emerged.

Results Data from 80 empirical and theoretical articles published from 2013 to 2018 formed the literature base for this dimensional analysis.

Conclusions An explanatory matrix built from the perspective of “Time Marking” reveals contexts, conditions, processes, and consequences that together provide an explanation of the nature of friendship in this population.

Implications for Practice This concept analysis, combined with the limitations of this inquiry, impels future empirical and theoretical research and implies preliminary clinical implications. In particular, the understanding of friendship as conceptually distinct from social support and the experience of friendships in narrative time suggest a need to reconceptualize supportive care services for adolescents and young adults who experience cancer.

Author Affiliation: University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia.

The author received financial support from The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Jane A. Evered, BSN, RN, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 420 Curie Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (

Accepted for publication November 6, 2018.

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